Seema Khan
Family, society and ultimately the whole of mankind is
treated by Islam on an ethical basis.
Differentiation in gender is neither a credit nor a
drawback for men or women.
Therefore, when we talk about status of woman in
Islam it should not lead us to think that Islam has no
specific guidelines, limitations, responsibilities or
obligations for men.
What makes one valuable and respectable in the eyes of
Allah, the Creator of mankind and the universe, is
neither one's prosperity, position, intelligence, physical
strength nor beauty, but only one's God-consciousness
and awareness.
Historical perspectives
Indian women
Athenian women
Roman women
English women
Indian women
Describing the status of the Indian woman,
Encyclopedia Britannica states:
“In India, subjection was a cardinal principle.
Day and night women must be held by their
protectors in a state of dependence. The rule of
inheritance was agnatic, that is descent traced
through males to the exclusion of females.”
In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good
wife is as follows: “a woman, whose mind,
speech and body are kept in subjection,
acquires high renown in this world, and, in the
next, the same abode with her husband.”
Athenian women
Athenian women were always minors,
subject to some male - to their father, to their
brother, or to some of their male kin.
Her consent in marriage was not generally
thought to be necessary and "she was
obliged to submit to the wishes of her
parents, and receive from them her husband
and her lord, even though he were stranger
to her."
Roman women were minors in the society
In the Encyclopedia Britannica we find a summary of
the legal status of women in the Roman civilization:
“In Roman Law a woman was even in historic times
completely dependent. If married, she and her
property passed into the power of her husband . . . the
wife was the purchased property of her husband, and
like a slave acquired only for his benefit. A woman
could not exercise any civil or public office . She
could not be a witness, surety, tutor, or guardian; she
could not adopt or be adopted, or make will or
According to the English Common Law:
...all real property which a wife held at the time of a
marriage became a possession of her husband.
He was entitled to the rent from the land and to any
profit which might be made from operating the estate
during the joint life of the spouses.
As time passed, the English courts devised means to
forbid a husband's transferring real property without the
consent of his wife, but he still retained the right to
manage it and to receive the money which it produced.
As to a wife's personal property, the husband's power
was complete. He had the right to spend it as he saw fit.
Only by the late nineteenth Century
did the situation start to improve. "By
a series of acts starting with the
Married women's Property Act in
1870, amended in 1882 and 1887,
married women achieved the right to
own property and to enter contracts on
a par with spinsters, widows, and
According to the Mosaic Law:
Encyclopedia Biblica states
“The girl’s consent is unnecessary and the
need for it is nowhere suggested in the
As to the right of divorce, we read in the
Encyclopedia Biblica:
“The woman being man's property, his right
to divorce her follows as a matter of
In the Mosaic Law divorce was a privilege
of the husband only
Misconceptions about Women in Islam:
Muslim women are slaves to their husbands/
inferior to them
Women are forced by their husbands to cover
Women are backward
Women are oppressed in Islam
Women are completely devoid of spiritual,
social, economic or political rights
Women in Islam
In the midst of the darkness that surrounded the
world, the divine revelation echoed in the wide
desert of Arabia with a fresh, noble, and
universal message to humanity:
He (God) it is who did create you from a single
soul and therefrom did create his mate, that he
might dwell with her (in love)...(Qur'an 7:189)
And Allah has given you mates of your own
nature, and has given you from your mates,
children and grandchildren, and has made
provision of good things for you… (Qur'an
The spiritual aspect
The economic aspect
The social aspect
The political and legal aspect
The Spiritual Aspect
Women have the same human spiritual nature as men
“"Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds"
(Qur'an 74:38). It also states:
...So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I
will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you
whether male or female. You proceed one from
another ...(Qur'an 3: 195).
Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and
has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is
good and pure, and We will bestow on such their
reward according to the their actions. (Qur'an16:97,
see also 4:124).
Woman responsible for the fall of man?
"A woman should learn in quietness and full
submission. I don't permit a woman to teach or
to have authority over a man; she must be
silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the
woman who was deceived and became a
sinner." 1 Timothy 2:11-14
"No wickedness comes anywhere near the
wickedness of a woman... Sin began with a
woman and thanks to her we all must die. .."
(Catholic Bible, Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24)
Woman responsible for the fall of man?
The Quran does not blame woman for the
“fall of man,” nor does it view pregnancy
and childbirth as punishments for “eating
from the forbidden tree.”
There is no hint that the first woman created
by God is a creature of lesser worth than the
first male.
The Quran deals with the pair with perfect
equity. Both are equally guilty of sinning;
both are equally punished by God with
expulsion from the Garden; and both are
equally forgiven when they repent.
The Spiritual Aspect (cont.)
Religious obligations and rewards:
In terms of religious obligations, such as the Daily Prayers,
Fasting, Zakat, and Pilgrimage, woman is no different from man
“If any do deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and
have faith, they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will
be done to them.” (Quran 4:124)
Lo! Men who surrender unto Allah, and women who surrender, and
men who believe and women who believe, and men who obey and
women who obey, and men who speak the truth and women who
speak the truth …and men who are humble and women who are
humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and
men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their
modesty and women who guard (their modesty), and men who
remember Allah and women who remember-Allah hath prepared
for them forgiveness and a vast reward. (33:35).
In some cases, woman has certain advantages over man
The Social Aspect
As a child and an adolescent
Despite the social acceptance of female infanticide
among some Arabian tribes, the Quran forbade this
custom, and considered it a crime like any other murder.
"And when the female (infant) buried alive - is
questioned, for what crime she was killed." (Qur'an
Criticizing the attitudes of such parents who reject their
female children, the Qur'an states:
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 her on (sufferance) and contempt, or bury her in
the dust? Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on?
(Qur'an 16: 58-59).
Among the sayings of Prophet Muhammad in this
regard are the following:
Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her
alive, does not insult her, and does not favor his son
over her, God will enter him into Paradise. (Ibn
Hanbal, No. 1957).
Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he
and I will come in the day of judgment as this (and he
pointed with his two fingers held together).
Right to education:
The right of females to seek knowledge is not different from
that of males
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
"Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim".
The Quran repeatedly commands all readers to read, to recite,
to think, to contemplate, as well as to learn from the signs of
In fact, the very first revelation to Prophet Muhammad
(PBUH)) was concerned with knowledge.
Lectures of the Prophet were attended by audiences of both
men and women
By the time of the Prophet's death, there were many women
The Social Aspect (cont.)
As a wife:
The Qur'an clearly indicates that marriage is sharing
between the two halves of the society, and that its
objectives, besides perpetuating human life, are emotional
well-being and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and
“And among His Signs is this, that He 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.” (Quran 30:21)
Rights pertaining to marriage in Islam:
The female has the right to accept or reject marriage
Her consent is a prerequisite to the validity of the
marital contract, according to the Prophet's teachings
Right to retain her family name
Right to a separate home
Full right to her Mahr – marital gift
Right to be satisfied by her husband
The husband is responsible for the maintenance,
protection, and overall leadership of the family, within
the framework of consultation and kindness.
Right to divorce her husband
The Qur'an states:
"...But consort with them in kindness, for if you hate
them it may happen that you hate a thing wherein God
has placed much good." (Qur'an 4: l9).
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
“The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and
best of you are those who are best to their wives.”
Prophet (peace be upon him) instructed Muslims
regarding women,
“I commend you to be kind to women.”
Should marital disputes arise, the Quran
encourages couples to resolve them
privately in a spirit of fairness and probity.
Under no circumstances does the Quran
encourage, allow, or condone family
violence or physical abuse.
The Social Aspect (cont.)
As a mother:
Islam considers kindness to parents next to the worship
of God.
Quran says:
"Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is
(your final) destiny." (Quran 31:14)
Moreover, the Qur'an has a special recommendation
for the good treatment of mothers
"And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his
parents: His mother bears him in weakness upon
weakness..." (Qur'an 31:14) (See also Qur'an 46:15,
The Economic Aspect
In the 19th century European women did not
have the right to own their own property.
In Britain, perhaps the first country to give
women some property rights, laws were passed
in the 1860's known as "Married Women
Property Act."
In Germany the wife was denied any control
over her property until 1922 by civil law!
The Economic Aspect
Islam provides a woman with:
Right to possess personal property- buy, sell, mortgage, lease
without anyone’s permission being required.
"Whatever men earn, they have a share of that and
whatever women earn, they have a share in that." (Qur'an
In Islam the wife’s property and earnings are under her full
control and for her use alone. No matter how rich the wife might
be, she is not obliged to act as a co-provider unless she herself
voluntarily chooses to do so.
Right to seek Employment
Right to Inheritance laws
Financial security
The Political Aspect
Islam provides a woman with:
Right to vote
Participation in political affairs
Women can be in leadership positions
Participation in public affairs
- During the Caliphate of Omar Ibn al-Khattab, a
woman argued with him in the mosque, proved
her point, and caused him to declare in the
presence of people: “The woman is right and
Omar is wrong.”
Rights of Women in Islam
Equality of reward for their deeds
The right and duty to obtain education
The right to obtain provisions from her father or brothers
until she gets married
The right to have their own independent property
The right to provisions from the husband for all her needs
and more.
The right to work to earn money if they need it or want it
The right to keep all her own money
The right to express their opinion and be heard
The right to negotiate marriage terms of her choice
The right to obtain divorce from her husband
The right to have custody of their children after divorce
And more…
Even with such distorted image of women in Islam in the
West it is worth mentioning that:
The history of Muslims is rich with women of great
achievements in all walks of life from as early as the
seventh century (B.C.)
Out of every 5 Muslim reverts, 4 are women!
The status which women reached in the west was
achieved through a long struggle and sacrifice on
woman’s part and only when society needed her
contribution and work, during the two world wars, and
due to the escalation of technological change.
In the case of Islam such compassionate and dignified
status was decreed more than 14 centuries ago, not
because it reflects the environment of the seventh
century, nor under the threat or pressure of women and
their organizations, but rather because of its intrinsic
A Dual sex society rather than a
unisex society
Western Idea of equality of sexes (Unisex
In Islam, men and women are equal but
different (Dual Sex Society)
Created differently
Abilities differ
Roles and duties differ
Islamic Dress
Both women and men are expected to dress
in a way, which is modest and dignified.
Men and women are required to dress and
appear different from each other to maintain
their identity
The Prophet cursed the men who appeared
like women and the women who appeared like
The traditions of male and female dress found
in some Muslim countries are often
expression of local customs.
"Say to the believing men that they
should lower their gaze and guard their
modesty......And say to the believing
women that they should lower their gaze
and guard their modesty; that they
should not display their beauty and
ornaments except what ordinarily
appear thereof; that they should draw
their veils over their bosoms...."
Islamic Dress for Women
In reference to women, the Quran and the
Hadiths have mandated various rules in regards
to behavior and appearance
This was not to restrict women, but to provide a
virtuous society where sexual attraction is not
the main obsession
The Muslim woman is not forced to display
herself to be accepted in the society.
She does not lower herself into competition
with other women, using her body as a lure.
She is not a slave to the societal trends
Hijaab- The covering
What is Hijaab?
Why Hijaab?
Benefits of Hijaab
What is Hijaab?
The word itself comes from the Arabic
word "hajaba" meaning to conceal or hide
from view.
Hijaab is the modest covering of the head
and body of Muslim women.
Clothing is only one facet of hijab. It is
also behavior, manner, and speech.
Women who wear the hijab do not find it
inhibiting, impractical, or interfering.
Why wear hijaab?
Because Allah, Their creator ordered them to
"O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters
and the believing women to draw their outer
garments around them (when they go out or
are among men). That is better in order that
they may be known (to be Muslims) and not
annoyed..." (Qur'an 33:59)
Benefits of Hijaab
She pleases her Lord and earns blessings from
wearing it
Purifies her heart and mind
Attains nobility
Protects her honor
By covering her beauty, she is evaluated for her
intelligence and skills instead of looks and sexuality
Many women who cover are filled with dignity and
self-esteem and are happy to be identified as a
Muslim woman.
Defines her femininity
Beautifies her inner and outer appearance
Expresses her independence and she feels liberated.
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