(part 1 of 2)
The issue of gender equality is important, relevant and current. Debates and writings on this topic are becoming more and more diverse in their perspectives. The Islamic perspective on this issue is the one that is least understood and most misinterpreted by non-Muslims and Muslims alike. This article is intended to provide a brief and authentic look at what position Islam occupies in this regard.
Women in Ancient Civilizations
To really understand the status of women that Islam has given them, one has to compare them with other legal systems that exist today and that existed in the past.
(1) The Indian system: It is stated in the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911: “In India, submission was a basic principle. Women have to be kept in a state of dependence by their protectors day and night, says Manu. The inheritance law was agnatic, which means it was passed down to men in descending order, excluding women. ” In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good wife looks like this: „A woman whose mind, language and body are kept in a state of submissiveness attains great esteem in this world and the same stay as her husband in the next.“ (Mace, Marriage East and West).
(2) The Greek system: women in Athens were no better off than in India or Rome. „Athenian women have always been inferior, subject to the man – either their father, brother or some of their male relatives.“ (Allen, EA, History of Civilization). Her consent to the marriage was not generally considered necessary and „she was obliged to comply with her parents‘ wishes and received from her her husband and master, even if he was a stranger to her.“ (Previous source)
(3) The Roman system: A Roman wife has been described by a historian as: “a baby, a minor, a ward, a person who is unable to do something according to their own taste, a person who is under the constant supervision and the guardianship of her husband. “ (Previous source). In The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911, we find a summary of the legal position of women in Roman civilization: “In Roman law, a woman was completely dependent even for historical times. When she married, she and her possessions came into the power of her spouse … the wife was the acquired property of her spouse and, like an acquired slave, was only for his benefit. A woman could not hold any civil or public office … she could not be a witness, guarantor, Be a guardian or curator; she could not adopt or be adopted, or make a will or contract. ”
(4) The Scandinavian system: Among the Scandinavian races were women: “Under constant guardianship, be they married or unmarried. Even in Christian V’s code, at the end of the 17th century, it was still prescribed that if a woman married without the consent of her guardian, he could, if he so wished, manage and use her goods during her life. ” (The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911).
(5) The British system: In Britain, the right of a married woman to own property was not recognized until the late 19th century. „Through a series of regulations beginning with the Married Women’s Property Act 1870, supplemented in 1882 and 1887, married women gained the right to acquire property and contract, on a par with the maid, widow and divorced.“ (Encyclopedia Britannica, 1968). In France, the French law was not amended until 1938 in such a way that women were granted the right to conclude contracts. However, a married woman still had to get her husband’s permission before they were allowed to give away their own property.
(6) In the Mosaic (Jewish) law: the woman is engaged. Explaining this concept, says the Encyclopedia Biblica, 1902: “Engaging a woman simply means acquiring ownership of her by paying a purchase price; a bride is a girl for whom the purchase price has been paid. ” From a legal perspective, the girl’s consent for the validity of her marriage is not necessary. „The girl’s consent is not necessary, and the need for it is not suggested anywhere in the laws.“ (Previous source). Regarding the right to divorce, we read in the Encyclopedia Biblica: „The woman is the property of the man, his right to divorce follows as a matter of course.“ Only the man has the right to divorce, as The Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911 states:
(7) The Christian Church: the attitude of the Christian Church up to the last centuries seems to have been influenced by the Mosaic law and by the currents of thought of contemporary cultures. In their book Marriage East and West, David and Vera Mace wrote: “Let us not assume that our Christian heritage is free from such contemptuous judgments. It is difficult to find a collection of more degrading allusions to the female gender anywhere than the early church fathers. Lecky, the famous historian, speaks of: ‚These violent hints, which are so strikingly and grotesquely part of the writings of the fathers … represent the woman as a door to hell, as the mother of all human evils. She should be ashamed of the thought of being a woman. She should live in constant penance because of the curses she has given to this world. She should be ashamed of her dress because it is a reminder of her case. She should be particularly ashamed of her beauty, because she is the most powerful tool of the devil. ‚ One of the most striking attacks on women is that of Tertullian: ‚Don’t you know that each of you is an Eve? God’s sentence on this gender in your life this time; the guilt must necessarily live too. You are the gate of the devil; you are the defiler of the forbidden tree; you are the first traitors to the divine law; it is you who persecute the one whom the devil could not attack. ‚ The Church has not only confirmed the inferior status of women, it has also deprived them of their rights,
Foundations of Spiritual and Human Equality in Islam
Amid the darkness that enveloped the world, the divine revelation echoed in the vast Arabian desert in the seventh century with a fresh, noble, and universal message to mankind, which is described below.
(1) According to the Holy Quran, men and women have the same human spiritual being:
“O people, fear your Lord, who created you from a single being and from him He created his wife, and He left many of the two Men and women arise … ”(Quran 4: 1, see also 7: 189, 42:11, 16:72, 32: 9, and 15:29)
(2) God endowed both sexes with innate dignity and made men and women, all together as governors of God on earth. (see Quran 17:70 and 2:30).
(3) The Quran does not hold the woman responsible for the “fall”, nor does she see pregnancy and the birth of children as punishment for “eating the forbidden tree”. On the contrary, the Quran describes Adam and Eve as equally responsible for their sin in the garden and nowhere blames the blame on Eve alone. They both repented and were forgiven (see Quran 2: 36-37 and 7: 19-27). Indeed, one verse (Quran 20: 121) even specifically criticizes Adam. The Quran values pregnancy and childbirth as sufficient reasons for the love and respect that mothers have for their children. (Quran 31:14 and 46:15).
(4) Men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. Every human being has to vouch for the consequences of his or her actions.
“See, I will not let any work of the active among you be lost, be it by man or woman; some of you are from the others …. ”(Quran 3: 195, see also 74:38, 16:97, 4: 124, 33:35, and 57:12)
(5) The Quran is pretty clear about any person’s superiority or inferiority, male or female. The only basis for a person’s superiority over another is piety and righteousness, not gender, color, or nationality. (see Quran 49:13).
The economic aspect of women in Islam
(1) The right to own personal property: Islam has prescribed a right that women have been deprived of, both before and after Islam (even into this century), the right to independent property. Islamic law recognizes women’s full property rights before and after marriage. You can buy, sell or lend your property as you wish. For this reason, Muslim women can keep their maiden names after marriage (and indeed have traditionally done so) as a sign of their independent property rights and as legal entities.
(2) Financial security and inheritance law: Financial security is granted to women. They are entitled to unlimited wedding gifts and to keep current and future property and income and use it for their own safety, even after marriage. No married woman is required to give any portion of her property and income to the household. The woman is also entitled to full financial support during marriage and during the „waiting period“ (Idda) in the event of divorce or as a widow. Some legal scholars also require support for divorced or widowed women for a year (or until they marry again if the wedding takes place before the year is over). A woman who has a child from marriage is entitled to support from the child’s father. In general, support is guaranteed to a Muslim woman in all stages of life as a daughter, wife, mother or sister. The financial benefits granted to women in marriage and not to men have a social justification in the provisions laid down in the Qur’an, in the laws on inheritance law, which in most cases give men twice as much as the women. Men don’t always inherit more, sometimes a woman inherits more than a man. In cases where men inherit more, they are financially responsible for their female relatives: for their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters. Women inherit less, but they keep their share of investment and financial security without any legal obligation, to hand over part of it, not even for their own supplies (food, clothing, housing, medication, etc.). It should be noted here that before Islam, women themselves were sometimes the objects of the legacy (see Quran 4:19). In some western countries, even after the arrival of Islam, the deceased’s entire estate was given to his / her eldest son. However, the Quran clearly indicates that both men and women have a certain share in the legacy of their deceased parents or close relatives. God says: that before Islam, women themselves had sometimes been the objects of the legacy (see Quran 4:19). In some western countries, even after the arrival of Islam, the deceased’s entire estate was given to his / her eldest son. However, the Quran clearly indicates that both men and women have a certain share in the legacy of their deceased parents or close relatives. God says: that before Islam, women themselves had sometimes been the objects of the legacy (see Quran 4:19). In some western countries, even after the arrival of Islam, the deceased’s entire estate was given to his / her eldest son. However, the Quran clearly indicates that both men and women have a certain share in the legacy of their deceased parents or close relatives. God says:
“Men are entitled to part of the legacy of their parents and relatives, and women are also entitled to part of the legacy of their parents and relatives. Be it a little or a lot. (That applies) as a prescribed proportion. ” (Quran 4: 7)
(3) Work: As for women looking for work, it should first be mentioned that Islam sees its role in society primarily as a mother and wife. Neither housemaids nor babysitters can replace the mother’s job as educator of an upright, complex, and well-behaved child. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as idleness. Nevertheless, there is no provision in Islam that would prohibit women from working when needed, especially in areas that fit their nature and where society needs them most. Examples of such occupations are nursing, teaching (especially of children), medicine, as well as social and charitable work.
(part 2 of 2)
The social aspect of women in Islam.
A) As a daughter:
(1) The Quran ended the cruel practices of girl murder that was practiced before Islam. God says:
„… and when the girl buried alive is asked,“ What crime were you killed for? “ (Quran 81: 8-9)
(2) The Quran went further and rebuked the habit of some parents who, when they heard the good news of a newborn girl instead of a boy, responded dismissively.
“And when one of them is told about the birth of a daughter, his face darkens and he suppresses the inner pain. He hides from the people because of the bad news he received: Should he keep them despite the shame or should he bury them in the earth? Truly, how they judge is evil! ” (Quran 16: 58-59)
(3) Parents are obliged to support their daughters and to be fair to them. The Prophet Muhammad, God’s blessings and peace be upon him, said: „Whoever brings up two daughters until they are mature, he and I will come on the day of judgment like this (and he showed his fingers next to each other).“
(4) An essential aspect of the upbringing of the daughters, which significantly influences their future, is the training. Education is not just a right but a responsibility for all men and women. The Prophet Muhammad said: „Knowledge is an obligation for every Muslim.“ The word “Muslim” here includes both men and women.
(5) Islam does not require and does not encourage female circumcision. Although it may be practiced by some Muslims in certain parts of Africa, it is also made there by other people, including Christians, which shows that this is a local custom.
B) As a wife:
(1) Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love and affection and does not only serve to satisfy the human sexual need. The most impressive verses of the Quran about marriage include the following:
“And among His signs is that He created wives for you from within yourself so that you would find peace with them; and He put affection and mercy between you. Here are truly signs of a people who think. ” (Quran 30:21, see also 42:11 and 2: 228)
(2) The woman has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. According to Islamic law, women cannot be forced to marry anyone against their will.
(3) The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and general management of the family, in the context of counseling (see Quran 2: 233) and kindness (see Quran 4:19). The supportive and complementary nature of the role of husband and wife does not mean that one is subject to the other. Prophet Muhammad instructed Muslims regarding their women: „I command you to be good to women.“ And „The best of you are the ones who are best with your wives.“ The Quran exhorts husbands to be kind and considerate of their wives, even if the wife declines in favor of her husband or evokes dislike from him:
“… travels fairly with them; and if you feel disgust at them, you may feel disgust at something in which God has put rich goods. ” (Quran 4:19)
It was also an Arab behavior before Islam that a stepson was allowed to inherit his widows after the death of his father, because they belonged to the estate of the deceased. (see Quran 4:19).
(4) If there are marital disputes, the Quran encourages the couples to resolve them among themselves in justice and kindness. In fact, the Quran describes an enlightened step and a wise approach for husband and wife to solve ongoing conflicts in their married life. In the event that the dispute cannot be resolved fairly between husband and wife, the Quran stipulates an intervention by the families of both parties in favor of the two spouses. (see Quran 4:35).
(5) Divorce is a last resort, allowed but not encouraged, because the Quran values the preservation of the beliefs and rights of the individual – man and woman alike – on bliss. Forms of dissolution of marriage include adoption by mutual consent, on the initiative of the husband, on the initiative of the wife (if this was part of their marriage contract), a judicial decision by the initiative of the wife (if there is a legitimate reason) and on the initiative the wife for no reason, on the condition that she returns her wedding gift to her husband. If for some reason the continuation of the marital relationship is impossible, the men are still asked to seek a benevolent end to it. The Quran says about such cases:
„And if you divorce women and they approach the completion of their waiting time, then keep them kindly or dismiss them kindly.“ (Quran 2: 231, see also 2: 229 and 33:49)
(6) Linking polygyny to Islam, as if it had been introduced by it or as if it were the norm according to its teachings, is one of the most persistent myths preserved in Western culture and the Western media. Polygyny existed in almost all nations and was not restricted even in Judaism and Christianity until the last centuries. Islam has not outlawed polygyny like many other peoples and religious communities have; but he regulated and restricted them. It is not necessary, but is simply allowed under certain conditions (see Quran 4: 3). The goal of the law, given the time of its revelation, is to deal with individual and collective eventualities that may arise from time to time (i.e.
C) As a mother:
(1) The Quran raises kindness to parents (especially mothers) to a status that comes second after the service:
“And your Lord has commanded:“ Worship no one except Him and (shows kindness to the parents.) If one of the parents or both of you live to a ripe old age, then do not say „Ugh!“ to them and do not drive at them, but speak to them in an respectful manner and lower them for them with compassion Wing of humility and say: „My Lord, have mercy on them (just as compassionately) as they raised me as a little one. ‚“ (Quran 17: 23-24, see also 31:14, 46:15, and 29: 8 )
(2) Of course, the Prophet Muhammad set this behavior for his followers, giving the mothers an incomparable status in human relationships. A man came to Prophet Muhammad and said: “O Messenger of God! Who is most entitled to my good company? ” The Prophet replied, „Your mother.“ The man said, „Who then?“ The Prophet replied, „Then your mother.“ The man continued to ask, „Who then?“ The Prophet replied, „Then your mother.“ The man asked again: „Then who?“ The Prophet said, „Then your father.“
D) As a sister in faith (general):
(1) According to the prophet Muhammad’s statement: “Women are only the schaqa’iq (twin halves) of men.” This statement is a profound remark that is directly related to the issue of gender equality. Taking the first meaning of the Arabic word schaqa’iq, “twin halves,” means that men make up half of society, while women make up the second half. Choosing the second meaning, „sisters“, points to the same thing.
(2) The Prophet Muhammad generally taught kindness, care, and respect for women: „I command you to be good to women.“ It is important that such an instruction from the Prophet was one of his last orders and memories on his farewell pilgrimage shortly before his death.
(3) Shame and social interaction: The parameters for correct shamefulness of men and women (in terms of clothing and behavior) are based on sources from the revelation (Quran and statements of the Prophet) and as such are used by believing men and women as Considered guidelines of divine origin with legitimate goals and divine wisdom behind them. These are not restrictions imposed by men or imposed by society. It is interesting that women were even encouraged to cover their heads in the Bible. “If she doesn’t want to cover herself, you cut her hair off. Now that it is bad that a woman has cut hair and is shaved, let her cover her head. ” (1 Corinthians 11: 6).
The legal and political aspect of women in Islam
(1) Equality before the law: both genders are entitled to equality before the law and at the courts. Justice is not gender-dependent (see Quran 5:38, 24: 2, and 5:45). Women are independent legal entities in financial and other matters.
(2) Participation in social and political life: The general rule in social and political life is the participation and cooperation of men and women in public affairs (see Quran 9:71). There is ample historical evidence of Muslim women participating in the choice of their leaders, in public affairs, in legislation, in administrative positions, in scholarship and teaching, and even on the battlefield. Such participation in social and political life was carried out without the participants losing sight of the complementary priorities of both sexes and without violating the Islamic guidelines of modesty and values.
The status that non-Muslim women have achieved in recent epochs has not been achieved due to the goodness of men or through a natural process. Rather, it was achieved through a long struggle and sacrifice on the part of women, and only because society needed their contribution and labor, especially during the two world wars and due to the escalation of technological change. Whereas in Islam such a just and dignified status is established, not because it reflects the environment of the seventh century and not because it arose under the threat or pressure of women and their organizations, but rather because of the innate truth.
If this indicates anything, it is the divine origin of the Quran and the truthfulness of the message of Islam, which, contrary to human philosophies and ideologies, was far from the human environment; a message that established such human principles that will neither become obsolete over time nor will they be obsolete in the future. After all, it is the message of the most wise and all-knowing God, whose wisdom and knowledge far exceed human thinking and progress.