Does Islam regard men and women as equal?
Posted July 10, 2011on:
Does Islam regard men and women as equal?
Composed and Edited By Princess-im Muslimah
This word – equality – which many thinkers in both the east and the west advocate in various fields of life is a word which is based on deviation and a lack of understanding, especially when the speaker attributes this idea of equality to the Qur’aan and to Islam.
One of the things that people misunderstand is when they say that “Islam is the religion of equality”. What they should say is that Islam is the religion of justice.
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“Here we should note that there are some people who speak of equality instead of justice, and this is a mistake. We should not say equality, because equality implies no differentiation between the two. Because of this unjust call for equality, they started to ask, what is the difference between male and female?’ So they made males and females the same, and then the communists said, ‘What difference is there between ruler and subject? No one has any authority over anyone else, not even fathers and sons; the father has no authority over his son,’ and so on.
But if we say justice, which means giving each one that to which he or she is entitled, this misunderstanding no longer applies, and the word used is correct. Hence it does not say in the Qur’aan that Allaah enjoins equality, rather it says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, Allaah enjoins Al‑‘Adl (i.e. justice)” [al-Nahl 16:90]
“and that when you judge between men, you judge with justice” [al-Nisa’ 4:58]
Those who say that Islam is the religion of equality are lying against Islam. Rather Islam is the religion of justice which means treating equally those who are equal and differentiating between those who are different.
No one who knows the religion of Islam would say that it is the religion of equality. Rather what shows you that this principle is false is the fact that most of what is mentioned in the Qur’aan denies equality, as in the following verses:
‘Say: Are those who know equal to those who know not?” [al-Zumar 39:9]
‘Say: Is the blind equal to the one who sees? Or darkness equal to light?’ [al-Ra’d 13:16]
‘Not equal among you are those who spent and fought before the conquering (of Makkah, with those among you who did so later’ [al-Hadeed 57:10]
‘Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled (by injury or are blind or lame), and those who strive hard and fight in the Cause of Allaah with their wealth and their live’ [al-Nisa’ 4:95]
Not one single letter in the Qur’aan enjoins equality, rather it enjoins justice. You will also find that the word justice is acceptable to people, for I feel that if I am better than this man in terms of knowledge, or wealth, or piety, or in doing good, I would not like for him to be equal to me.
Every man knows that he find it unacceptable if we say that the male is equal to the female.”
Sharh al-‘Aqeedah al-Waasitah, 1/180-181
Based on this, Islam does not regard men and women as equal in matters where regarding them as equal would result in injustice to one of them, because equality that is inappropriate is a severe form of injustice.
The Qur’aan commands women to wear clothes that are different from those worn by men, because of the differences in the ways each sex is tempted by the other. The temptation posed by men is less than the temptation posed by women, so the clothes that women should wear are different than the clothes that men wear. It makes no sense to tell women to expose the parts of the body that men are allowed to expose, because of the differences in the temptation posed by a woman’s body and a man’s body – as we shall explain.
There are matters in which men and women are treated differently in Islamic sharee’ah, such as:
1 – Qiwaamah (being in charge of the household)
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means”
Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“Allaah says ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women’ meaning that the man is in charge of the woman, i.e., he is the leader and head of the household, the one who disciplines her if she goes astray.
‘because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other’ i.e., because men are superior to women and are better than women. Hence Prophethood was given only to men, as was the position of khaleefah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, ‘No people shall ever prosper who appoint a woman as their ruler.’ This was narrated by al-Bukhaari from the hadeeth of ‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Bakrah from his father. The same applies to the position of qaadi (judge), etc.
‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ refers to the mahr and the spending on women’s maintenance that Allaah has enjoined upon men in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). So a man is inherently better than a woman, and he is superior to her because he spends on her. So it is appropriate that he should be in charge of her, as Allaah says, ‘but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them’ [al-Baqarah 2:228].
‘Ali ibn Abi Talhah said, narrating from Ibn ‘Abbaas: ‘Men are the protectors and maintainers of women’ means that men are the leaders of women and they should obey them in areas where Allaah has enjoined obedience. Obedience may mean treating his family kindly and protecting his wealth.”
(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/490)
2 – Testimony or bearing witness. The Qur’aan states that the testimony of one man is equivalent to the testimony of two women.
There are about five verses in the Qur’an that mention witnesses, without specifying male or female. There is only one verse in the Qur’an, that says two female witnesses are equal to one male witness. This verse is Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 282. This is the longest verse in the Qur’an and deals with financial transactions. It says:
“And get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her”
This verse of the Qur’an deals only with financial transactions. In such cases, it is advised to make an agreement in writing between the parties and take two witnesses, preferably both of which should be men only. In case you cannot find two men, then one man and two women would suffice.
For instance, suppose a person wants to undergo an operation for a particular ailment. To confirm the treatment, he would prefer taking references from two qualified surgeons. In case he is unable to find two surgeons, his second option would be one surgeon and two general practitioners who are plain MBBS doctors.
Similarly in financial transactions, two men are preferred. Islam expects men to be the breadwinners of their families. Since financial responsibility is shouldered by men, they are expected to be well versed in financial transactions as compared to women. As a second option, the witness can be one man and two women, so that if one of the women errs the other can remind her. The Arabic word used in the Qur’an is ‘Tazil’ which means ‘confused’ or ‘to err’. Many have wrongly translated this word as ‘to forget’. Thus financial transactions constitute the only case in which two female witnesses are equal to one male witness.
There are about five verses in the Qur’an which speak about witnesses without specifying man or woman.
While making a will of inheritance, two just persons are required as witnesses. In Surah Maidah chapter 5 verse 106, the Glorious Qur’an says:
“Oh you who believe! When death approaches any of you, (take) witnesses among yourself when making bequests.” [Al-Qur’an 5:106]
Two just persons of your own (brotherhood) or other from outside if you are journeying through the earth and the chance of death befalls you.” [Al-Qur’an 65:2]
Two persons endued with justice in case of talaq.
“Four witnesses are required in case of charge against chaste women, [Al-Qur’an 24:4]
The seeming inequality of male and female witnesses in financial transactions is not due to any inequality of the sexes in Islam. It is only due to the different natures and roles of men and women in society as envisaged by Islam.
3 – A woman inherits half of what a man inherits.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Allaah commands you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females”
In Islam a woman has no financial obligation and the economical responsibility lies on the shoulders of the man. Before a woman is married it is the duty of the father or brother to look after the lodging, boarding, clothing and other financial requirements of the woman. After she is married it is the duty of the husband or the son. Islam holds the man financially responsible for fulfilling the needs of his family. In order to do be able to fulfill the responsibility the men get double the share of the inheritance. For example, if a man dies leaving about Rs. One Hundred and Fifty Thousand, for the children (i.e one son and one daughter) the son inherits One Hundred Thousand rupees and the daughter only Fifty Thousand rupees. Out of the one hundred thousand which the son inherits, as his duty towards his family, he may have to spend on them almost the entire amount or say about eighty thousand and thus he has a small percentage of inheritance, say about twenty thousand, left for himself. On the other hand, the daughter, who inherits fifty thousand is not bound to spend a single penny on anybody. She can keep the entire amount for herself. Would you prefer inheriting one hundred thousand rupees and spending eighty thousand from it, or inheriting fifty thousand rupees and having the entire amount to yourself?
Because Allaah knows better than they do what is in their best interests, He made the division of inheritance based on differentiation, because He knows what is in their best interests.
Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 5/164
For example, a man is obliged to spend more than a woman, so it is appropriate that he should have a larger share of inheritance than a woman.
4 – Clothing:
A woman’s ‘awrah includes her entire body. The least that can be said is that she should not uncover anything except her face and hands, and it was said that she should not even uncover that.
Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful”
The ‘awrah of a man is the area from the navel to the knees.
It was said to ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ja’far ibn Abi Taalib, “Tell us what you heard from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and what you saw of him, and do not tell us about anyone else, even if he was trustworthy.” He said, “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, ‘The area between the navel and the knee is ‘awrah.’”
Narrated by al-Haakim in al-Mustadrak (6418); classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5583.
There are many other difference which people usually quotes, but they forget that man and woman cant be alike, They are EQUAL but not SIMILAR ! !
“And the male is not like the female”
[Aal ‘Imraan 3:36]
The male is different from the female in many ways, in his strength, in his body, in his toughness and roughness, whereas women are soft and gentle.
And men are different in intellectual terms, for men are known for their strength of understanding and their memory as compared to women. Women are weaker than men in memory and forget more than men do. This is well known, for most of the reputable scholars in the world are men. There are some women who are more intelligent and have better memories than some men, but this does not cancel out the general rule. Most cases are as we have described above.
With regard to emotions, men speak of them when they get angry or when they are happy, but women are affected by the slightest emotional effects, so their tears flow at the slightest emotional provocation.
Jihad is obligatory for men, but jihad in the sense of fighting is not obligatory for women. This is the mercy of Allaah towards them, and consideration for their nature.
In conclusion we may say that the rulings for men are not like the rulings for women.
Islam regards men and women as equally obliged with regard to many acts of worship and interactions with others. For example, women do wudoo’ just as men do, they do ghusl as men do, they pray as men do, and they fast as men do, except when they are menstruating or bleeding following childbirth. Women pay zakaah as men pay zakaah, and they do Hajj as men do, except for a few differences in the rulings. It is permissible and acceptable to buy from a woman, and if a woman gives charity, that is permissible. It is permissible for a woman to set free the slaves that she owns, and there are many other similar cases because women are the twin halves of men, as it says in the hadeeth:
It was narrated that ‘Aa’ishah said: “Prophet Peace be Upon him said: women are the twin halves of men.”
(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 113; Ahmad, 25663. Classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi, 98)
Higher Status given to Woman – Never found in any other religion
Honor as Mother :
A man came to the Messenger of Allaah SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, “O Messenger of Allaah, who among people is most deserving of my good company?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Your mother.” He asked, “Then who?” He said, “Then your father.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 5626; Muslim, 2548)
Islam honours women as daughters.
It was narrated from Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
“Whoever has three daughters or three sisters, or two daughters or two sisters, and takes good care of them and fears Allaah with regard to them, will enter Paradise.” (Narrated by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh, 2/190)
Honor as a “Wife”
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
“The best among you are those who treat their wives in the best manner.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 217
In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (SWT) points to marital bond as one of His signs and says,
“Among His signs is that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts). Verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.” (30:21).
A virtuous wife is always a source of tranquility, love and mercy, as we find these in the great Muslim lady like Khadijah (R.A), the first wife of the Prophet (Peace be upon him). Allah says,
“It is He Who created you from a single person, and made his mate of like nature in order that he might dwell with her in love….” (7:189).
In Surah Baqarah (2:187) it is mentioned that
“they (wives) are your garments and you are their garments”. The inward meaning of garment is peace and security.
“Consort with them graciously. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike something in which Allah has placed much good. (4:20)“
The Prophet, peace be upon him, was most emphatic in enjoining upon Muslims to be kind to their women when he delivered his famous sermon (Arabic: khutba on the Mount of Mercy, at Arafat, in the presence of one hundred and twenty-four thousand of his Companions who had gathered there for the Hajj al-Wada (Farewell Pilgrimage). In it he ordered those present, and through them all those Muslims who were to come later, to be respectful and kind towards women. He said:
“Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of Allah, and made their bodies lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means.”
Honor as a Woman – Not a Sexual Toy !
Click below here :
Women are like men in some aspects and they differ from them in others. Most of the rulings of Islam apply to men and women equally. In cases where a distinction is made between the sexes, the Muslim regards that as a mercy from Allaah and a sign of His knowledge of His creation, but the arrogant kaafir sees it as oppression and injustice, so he stubbornly insists on claiming that men and women are the same. So let him tell us how a man can carry a foetus and breastfeed it? He stubbornly ignores the weakness of women and how they bleed during their monthly period, and he stubbornly beat his head against the rock of reality. But the Muslim is still at peace with his faith, surrendering to the command of Allaah.
“Should not He Who has created know? And He is the Most Kind and Courteous (to His slaves), All‑Aware (of everything)” [al-Mulk 67:14 – interpretation of the meaning]
And Allaah knows best.
Composed and Edited By Princess-im Muslimah
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