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Women in Islam


  • I- The Spiritual Aspect

    Foundations of Spiritual and Human Equity


    1. According to the Quran, men and women have the same human spiritual nature.

    {O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them two scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; reverence Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you} (An-Nisa 4: 1)

    {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). When they are united, she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed). When she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah, their Lord (saying) "If You give us a goodly child, we vow we shall (ever) be grateful} (Al-A'raf 7: 189)

    {(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you! There is nothing whatever like unto Him, and He is the one that hears and sees (all things)} (Ash-Shura 42: 11) The Quran does not blame woman for the "fall of man"


    2. Both men and women alike are recipients of the "divine breath" because they are created with the same human spiritual nature. Indeed, as the Quran states, God originated them both from a single person or "one soul". Reflecting the magnitude of this universal divine gift, the Quran states:

    {But He fashioned him (the human) in due proportion and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and understanding: Little thanks do you give!} (As-Sajdah 32: 9)

    Referring to Adam, the father of both men and women, the Quran relates that God commanded the angels to bow down (in respect) to him:

    {So if I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall down in obeisance unto him} (Al-Hijr 15: 29)


    3. God has invested both genders with inherent dignity and has made men and women, collectively, the trustees of God on earth.

    {We have honored the children of Adam, provided them with transport on land and sea, given them for sustenance things good and pure, and conferred on them special favors above a great part of Our Creation} (Al-Isra' 17: 70)

    {Behold, your Lord said to the angels: "I will create a vicegerent on earth." They said "Will you place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? While we celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy (name)?" He said: "I know what you know not."} (Al-Baqarah 2: 30)


    4. 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." On the contrary, the Quran depicts Adam and Eve as equally responsible for their sin in the Garden, never singling out Eve for blame. It also esteems pregnancy and childbirth as sufficient reasons for the love and respect due to mothers from their children.


    {O Adam! You and your wife dwell in the garden and enjoy (its good things) as you (both) wish: but approach not this tree or you (both) run into harm and transgression. Then Satan began to whisper suggestions to them, bringing openly before their minds all their shame that was hidden from them (before): he said, "Your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you (both) should become angels or such beings as live forever. "And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought about their fall. When they tasted of the tree, their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: "Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?" They said: "Our Lord! we have wronged our own souls: If You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your mercy, we shall certainly be lost. (Allah) said: "Get you (both) down with enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling place and your means of livelihood for a time." He said: "Therein shall you (both) live and therein shall you (both) die; and from it shall you (both) be taken out (at last) ..." O you children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment to expose their shame: for he and his tribe watch you from a position where you cannot see them: We made the evil ones friends (only) to those without faith.} (Al-A'raf 7: 19-27)


    The Quran is quite clear about the issue of the claimed superiority or inferiority of any human. Regarding pregnancy and childbirth, the Quran states:


    {And We have enjoined on (every) person (to be good) to his/her parents: in travail upon travail did his/her mother bear him/her and in years twain was his/her weaning: (hear the command) show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) Goal."} (Luqman 31: 14)


    {We have enjoined on (every) person kindness to his/her parents: in pain did his/her mother bear him/her and in pain did she give him/her birth. The carrying of the (child) to his/her weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he/she reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he/she says "O my Lord! grant that I may be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon both my parents and that I may work righteousness such as You may approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to You and truly do I bow (to You) in Islam (submission)."} (Al-Ahqaf 46: 15)


    5. Men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities:


    God says in the Quran: {Each human being shall face the consequences of his or her deeds. And their Lord has accepted of them and answered them: "Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he/she male or female: you are members one of another...} (Al-Imran 3: 195)


    {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.} (An-Nisa 4: 124)


    {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 and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward} (Al-Ahzab 33: 35)


    {One Day you shall see the believing men and the believing women, how their Light runs forward before them and by their right hands. (Their greeting will be): "Good News for you this Day! Gardens beneath which flow rivers! To dwell therein forever! This is indeed the highest Achievement!"} (Al-Hadid 57: 12)

    Criterion For "Superiority"


    The Quran is quite clear about the issue of the claimed superiority or inferiority of any human:

    {O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things) (Al-Hujurat 49: 13)

    A few observations about this verse may be helpful in tracing the foundation of spiritual and human equality before God:

    a. It begins by addressing not only Muslims but the whole of mankind, irrespective of their gender and their national or religious backgrounds. As such, it is a universal declaration to all made by the Creator of all.

    b. It states that there is only one Creator of all mankind. As such there is no room for arguments of superiority based on one's having been created by a "superior" God, as there is only one God (Allah). Nor is there any basis for a caste system based on some having been created in a way which is "different" from others or is superior. As Prophet Muhammad explained: " . . . You all belong to Adam, and Adam was created from dust." (Abu Dawud) In the process of human reproduction, there is no superiority or inferiority; kings and paupers, males and females, are created from what the Quran describes as "despised fluid."
    Our having been created by the one and only Creator implies our basic equality before Him; He is just to all.

    c. Being a faithful creature, servant and worshipper of the one God is at the heart of one's real spirituality and humanness. In this, the essence of gender equality finds its most profound basis.
    Nowhere does the Quran state that one gender is superior to the other.

    d. The verse states that all human beings are created of male and female. This means in pairs, as the Quran explicitly mentions elsewhere for example: {And created you in pairs} (An-Naba' 78: 8) Each component of the pair is as necessary and as important as the other and hence is equal to him or her. The wording of this verse has been commonly translated also as "from a (single pair of) a male and a female," referring to Adam and Eve. This serves as a reminder to all mankind that they belong to the same family, with one common set of parents. As such they are all equal, as brothers and sisters in that broad and "very extended" family.

    e. Variations in gender, languages, ethnic backgrounds and, by implication, religious claims, do not provide any basis for superiority or inferiority. The implication of {that you may know each other} (Al-Hujurat 49: 13) is that such variations constitute a deliberate mosaic that God created, which is more interesting and more beautiful than a single "color" or a "unisex. "

    f. Most significant and relevant to the topic at hand is the clear categorical statement that the most honored person in the sight of God is the one who is most pious and righteous. This precludes any other basis for superiority, including gender.


    6. Nowhere does the Quran state that one gender is superior to the other. Some interpreters of the Quran mistakenly translate the Arabic word qiwamah (responsibility for the family) with the English word "superiority." The Quran makes it clear that the sole basis for the superiority of any person over another is piety and righteousness, not gender, color or nationality.


    7. The absence of women as prophets or "messengers of Allah" in prophetic history is because of the demands and physical suffering associated with the role of messengers and prophets and not because of any spiritual inferiority attributed to women. Societies, to which prophets were sent, including the Israelites, pre-Islamic Arabs and others, were largely patriarchal societies. They probably would have been less responsive to the ministry of female messengers of God. In fact, they made things extremely difficult for male messengers.

    Conclusion


    From this chapter, it is clear that in terms of spirituality and humanness, both genders stand on equal footing before God. It is clear also that nowhere in the primary sources of Islam (the Quran and Sunnah) do we find any basis for the superiority of one gender over the other. Human misinterpretations, culturally-bound opinions or manipulations are not congruent with what Islam teaches. The full equality of all human beings before God is beyond doubt. This equality differentiation in the spirit of cooperation and complimentarity. This is why equity is a more accurate term than equality.

  • "Every society embraces the particular values that it honours, respects, and protects. However, the subject that is given such honour varies according to the viewpoint that the society and the state are established upon. This attitude towards honour will then consequently spread to shape the opinions of the individuals within the society at large.


    Within a capitalist state, empty rhetoric is often expressed regarding the honour, care and protection given to the wife, mother, daughter and career woman. However, behind such words, the reality is very clear: the only object worthy of honour, care and protection is money and the values of freedom and democracy. Hence, we observe a situation in Western societies where the use of pornography and images of naked women to sell products has become an acceptable means due to its ability to create massive revenue.


    Under the guise of personal freedom that stipulates that an individual should live his life according to his own desires and under his own accountability, we see an epidemic of crimes against women ranging from sexual harassment and rape to domestic violence. Women are encouraged by the male-run fashion industries to wear as little clothing as possible to reveal their beauty to all. We also see that slanderous allegations against the reputation of women have become commonplace in the media and within society at large. It is clear that the view of the woman being an economic commodity for the man, or tool to simply fulfil the desires of man, affects all levels of the society from the politicians, police force, army and doctors, to the simple man on the street. Such is the result of the capitalist ideology.


    The antithesis to this situation is the deen of Islam where the true preservation of the honour of the woman is viewed as a life and death matter to be given the utmost care and attention. This is exhibited by the society and state and at all stages within the Muslim woman's life as a daughter, wife, and mother. The Prophet (saw) said, ""Whoever dies protecting his honour dies shaheed."" The woman is one of those honours placed within the palm of the man as an amana (trust) from his Creator Allah (swt) to be protected at all times. This attitude within an Islamic State would also affect every level of the society from the ruler, army, Qadis and to the man on the street.


    An international view that has been propagated as to how the woman can achieve respect and honour within the society is to adopt the Western lifestyle, dress and to become a successful career woman. Alongside this, women have been instructed to call for the values of liberation, freedom, and equality and to aid the transformation of the systems of ruling within their countries to become more in tune with the Democratic system of government that secures all freedoms of the capitalist West. In contrast, the image portrayed of Islam is that it dishonours the woman by forcing her to cover in the khimar and jilbab, by encouraging early marriage, by commanding obedience to the father as a daughter and to the husband as a wife and by allowing polygamy for the man. The Western media, as proofs for their claim, repeatedly cite the existent pseudo-Islamic states such as Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.


    The Western world calls for the Muslim woman to lock the Qur'an in the cupboard and disregard the rules and roles that emanate from Islam. It calls for her to uncover her beauty so she may be appreciated by men, to socialise freely with male friends and colleagues so as to elevate her status, to pursue her career at the expense of marriage and her marital duties and to call for further freedoms within her society.


    Unfortunately, many of our dear sisters have taken this path, feeling that this will bring them the honour and protection that they desire as Muslim women within society. It is an attack that has been consistent over the past 150 years or so and this concept has corrupted the mentality of the rulers, scholars and intellectuals of this Ummah. Qasim Amin, an Egyptian judge in the 19th century, wrote a book entitled, Al Mara'at al Jadida (Modern Woman). In this, he rebukes Egyptians for glorifying their Islamic past and taking pride in their Islamic culture. He advises the Muslim woman to take the Western woman as her role model in order to elevate her status and the status of Egyptian society. He writes, "This is our real ailment which needs to be eradicated first of all. The first way to get rid of it is that we should make our younger generations acquainted more and more with Western civilisation and its conditions and circumstances ... We will realise the value and importance of Western civilisation and see for ourselves that no reform is possible unless it is based on modern Western knowledge ... For this very reason we project the people of the West as a symbol of perfection, insist on their veneration as an ideal, and appeal to our countrymen to study the position and status of the Western woman."


    With this in mind, it is important for us to examine the true reality of the status of the honour of the woman within the western capitalist states and the consequences of the call for ideas such as freedom and liberation. Has the achievement of a successful career, a free lifestyle, and a greater voice in the parliamentary process and democracy brought her the honour, status, protection and security that she desired?

    The Capitalist Western States and the Dishonouring of the Woman


    The greatest idol within the capitalist state is money. Consequently, the main question that plagues the minds of the individuals within the society is how to increase their material wealth. As a result, the woman is not viewed as a human being that has certain needs that require fulfilment, including the protection of her honour. Rather, she is viewed as an economic commodity to be exploited by whoever wishes to make money. In existence is a capitalist dominated world where the pornography industry generates $7 billion every year, a figure greater than the whole of the so-called ""legitimate film and music industries"" combined. In the US, pornography films gross $1 million every day, and in Britain 20 million copies of pornography magazines are sold every year, producing revenue of £500 million. It is therefore clear that men are encouraged to simply view women as objects to gratify their sexual desires. Is this the honour that the Muslim woman seeks from the adoption of the idea of freedom?


    Could it be possible that the successful working woman is not seen in this light due to her material achievements and service within the society, such as the doctor, manager, engineer, secretary or teacher, and rather her male colleagues view her with respect and honour? It is naive to think that in a society that is drenched with the culture of personal freedom and opinion, that the workplace or office would be a haven from such degrading mentality and behaviour. If we examine the issue of sexual harassment in the Western states, within those institutions that should theoretically exemplify morality such as the governments that look after the affairs of the people and the police force and army, we see the true picture of the male view towards their female colleagues. In a survey conducted in the UK among the British Civil Service, 70% of the respondents claimed to have been sexually harassed at work. A survey in nine US states, examining a period of 5 years, stated that 60% of the female lawyers interviewed had been sexually harassed, a third by colleagues, 40% by clients, and 6% by judges. In the 1998 study by the Yale University School of Medical Researchers it was discovered that amongst the female soldiers of the American army serving in the Vietnam or Gulf war, 63% had experienced physical and sexual harassment during their military service, and 43% reported rape or attempted rape. If these are the professionals who claim to uphold the law, then what can be expected from the rest of the society? A successful career within the capitalist state has not given the woman the status that she dreamt of. Is this the honour that the Muslim woman seeks when she strives day and night to build her career and neglect her family, children, and other Islamic obligations?


    Some may claim that Western women achieve harmony and honour in the home, if not in the public arena? This is a delusional idea. The BBC reported that nearly 25% of women in the UK face domestic violence at some stage in their life. Police are called to an incident of domestic violence every 60 seconds and receive 1,300 calls each day related to this. Domestic violence kills two women each week in the UK. Professor Betsy Stanke from University of London was quoted as saying, "What this shows is that men in Britain, like men around the world, also beat their wives." Is this the honour that the Muslim woman seeks by adopting the Western lifestyle and culture and by forsaking the Islamic culture?


    If we study the ultimate form of dishonour that a woman can experience, that of rape, we find shocking statistics illustrating the reality. In the US, a rape occurs every minute, and in the UK, one-third of women have been sexually abused by the age of 18. Also, there was a 500% increase in the reporting of rape between 1996 and 1997. In addition, the sentence for rape can be as low as 180 hours community service. The recent case of a middle-aged woman raped by a group of youths along a canal in West London clearly illustrates how low the honour of the woman has become within this society. She was raped by a 15 year old and 18 year old, while others watched and encouraged the episode, the youngest being 11 years old. Perhaps more shocking than this was that a girl actually held down the victim while her friends raped the woman. It appears that even women no longer value their honour. It is not surprising that the majority of women in the West do not feel safe on the streets at any time of the day. Is this really the honour that the Muslim woman seeks by calling for the Western capitalist system, democracy and freedom to be implemented over her? The reason for this horrific reality is clear: the implementation of man-made law.


    Allah (swt) says:

    "If the truth had been in accord with their desires, truly the heavens and the earth and all beings therein would have been in confusion and corruption! Nay we have sent them their admonition but they turn away from their admonition"" [TMQ Al-Mu'minun: 71].

    Allah (swt) also says:


    "Whoever follows My Guidance shall neither go astray, nor fall into distress and misery. But whoever turns away from My Reminder (That is, neither believes in the Qur'an nor acts on its orders) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection" [TMQ Ta-Ha: 123-124].


    The Current Reality of the Muslim World and the Dishonour of the Woman


    However disgusting the statistics may prove, nothing can compare to the distress from understanding the reality of the Muslim world today. Our societies, if not mirroring the status of the Western picture, are rapidly approaching this. This is as a result of the domination of capitalism over our lands, the infiltration of the Western culture based upon freedom and democracy, and the absence of a true Islamic State, the Khilafah, to protect the honour of the Muslim woman.


    In February this year, Reuters reported the case of three former Bosnian Serb commanders convicted by the United Nations War Crimes Court for rape and sexual enslavement of dozens of Muslim women in the area of Foca, in southeast Bosnia, during the Bosnian war. Prosecutors said the three men took women and girls as young as 12 to a variety of "rape houses" for brutal beatings and assaults. Many women were so forcibly abused that they suffered permanent harm. One woman, identified as "witness 75", was raped for three hours by 15 men. One 15-year-old girl described a knife wielding man who threatened to gouge her with a crucifix and forced her to drink alcohol. He made her assume a Serb name as he raped her. She described the horrific experience of being raped, "I remember he was very forceful. He wanted to hurt me. But he could never hurt me as much as my soul was hurting me."


    Such realities are not few in number. Our sisters continue to suffer such humiliation worldwide from Kosovo, to Palestine to Kashmir, due to the absence of the protection of the Islamic State. The infiltration of freedom into our lands has brought with it rape, domestic violence, sexual perversion and prostitution engaged in by Muslim men. In Pakistan, a woman is raped every two hours. In March 1998, a case came to the attention of the Pakistani courts of a 14 year old school girl named Naumana Tabbasum who was gang raped in a governmental building in Peshawar by the section officer of the local government department and three of his colleagues. They had threatened to kill her parents if she revealed the truth. Is it not the government that should be the protector of the people and not its enemy? There are numerous reports also of police in Pakistan stripping women naked and parading them in public.


    Muslim women continue to suffer humiliation
    Muslim women continue to suffer


    In Bangladesh, prostitution has been legalised, and it is said that the rate of abortion there of girls between 15 and 49 is 28/1000, almost the level of that within the US. Domestic violence is also reaching epidemic levels in the Muslim world. In Pakistan, there is a shocking statistic of domestic violence. It is said that 70% of women are subjected to violence in their homes. A new style is used in the Asian sub-continent called, ""stove burning"" where the woman is set on fire for reasons ranging from not bearing sons to not having added enough salt to the food. Lahore newspapers report over four cases of women injured per week from such treatment, and two hospitals in Pakistan stated that 500 women had burned to death as a result of such incidents in the past three years.


    The reason for such problems is clear: the idea of personal freedom where the man can fulfil his desires and behave in any way he pleases. The consequences on others within society, and the honour of women, are dire. It is evident then that a call for the Western way of life, the adoption of the Western culture and the capitalist system can bring nothing but humiliation, dishonour, and insecurity for the Muslim woman.


    The Organisations that Bring the Dishonour of the Muslim Woman to the Muslim Lands


    The infiltration of Western culture and the introduction of the capitalist laws within the Muslim lands are not chance events. Calculated moves are taken by the Western states to constantly redefine the Islamic social system and attack the identity of the Muslim woman. They stand guilty of having exported the degradation of the woman within their societies to the sisters of the Muslim countries. The styles used include the Western media, the Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) functioning within Muslim lands and institutions such as the United Nations.


    In June of last year, 188 nations from amongst Muslim and non-Muslim countries, and 1250 NGOs world-wide, gathered in New York for an International Women's Conference entitled "Beijing + 5". The objective was clear: to accelerate the standardisation of the relationship and roles of the men and women within society of all the nations of the world to be in line with the capitalist values. If we examine certain aims established through the discussions, this is openly apparent: "Ensure that women of all ages can fully realize their sexuality, free of coercion, discrimination and violence, by developing legislation, disseminating information, and promoting accessible and affordable services." "Discourage, through media and other means, customary laws and practices, such as early marriage, polygamy ... " In Bangladesh, the NGOs aided the introduction of the legalisation of prostitution and continue to call for the freedom of the women within the society.


    We should realise that the underhanded objectives behind such events is to drive the Muslim woman further away from her role and duties defined by Islam and to drive a wedge between her and the obedience to her Creator. Truly, we should understand the danger from taking our solutions from these institutions. It is a call for women to discard their honour and to lead them away from the beauties and rewards of Jannah.


    Allah (swt) warns us in the Qur'an:


    "O ye who believe! Take not into your intimacy those outside your ranks: They will not fail to corrupt you..." [TMQ Ale-Imran: 118].


    Allah (swt) also says:

    "O you who believe! Follow not the footsteps of Shaytan. And whosoever follows the footsteps of Shaytan then verily he commands Al-Fahisha (indecency) and Al-Munkar (evil). And had it not been for the grace of Allah and His Mercy on you, not one of you would ever have been pure from sins" [TMQ An-Nur: 21].

    Islam: Securing the Honour of the Woman

    Having established that the call for the adoption of the Western woman's dress, lifestyle, goals and systems will bring nothing but humiliation to the Muslim woman and her society, it is crucial that we understand that Islam is the only way of life, and that the Khilafah is the only ruling system that brings the woman honour, protection and elevation in society. We can observe how Islam brings the honour, dignity and tranquillity to the woman in three ways: having a correct aim in life, honouring the Muslim woman in society and securing her honour under the Khilafah.


    1. Having the Correct Aim in Life


    There is no doubt that the greatest honour in life is to be a Muslim. The greatest honour that can be bestowed upon the human being is to be a servant of Allah (swt) and to gain the pleasure and blessings of the Creator with every action performed in accordance with His command. Allah (swt) says: ""But honour belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and to the believers but the hypocrites know not"" [TMQ Al-Munafiqun: 8].


    The greatest honour in life is to be a Muslim The greatest honour in life is to be a Muslim


    Success is ensuring that not one minute passes without securing the rewards of the Hereafter by the pursuance of the fulfilment of the obligations to Allah (swt) in every area of life. Whether in ibadat, as a wife, a mother, daughter, fulfilling the contract of a job, covering her awrah with the khimar and jilbab in the public arena, segregating from the men or carrying the da'wa to make Allah's (swt) word the highest by the work for the re-establishment of the Khilafah.


    Allah (swt) says:


    "For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, 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 God's praise, for them has God prepared forgiveness and a great reward" [TMQ Al-Ahzab: 35].


    The greatest tranquillity is in the knowledge of the promise of Allah (swt) of the rewards of Jannah (paradise) for those men and women who restrict themselves to His limits and fulfil all of His obligations in life without discrimination. Truly, this is the greatest honour and success of all, to be in the company of the Prophets, the pure companions, and Insha'Allah to spend eternity in nearness to Allah (swt).


    Allah (swt) promises:


    "The righteous (will be) amid gardens and fountains (of clear-flowing water). (Their greeting will be): 'Enter ye here in peace and security.' And We shall remove from their hearts any lurking sense of injury: (They will be) brothers (joyfully) facing each other on thrones (of dignity). There no sense of fatigue shall touch them, nor shall they (ever) be asked to leave"" [TMQ Al-Hijr: 45-48].

    We see then, for a Muslim woman, to fulfil the duties of wife and mother in Islam is a great honour. For her to obey her husband, or to serve him meals, or bring comfort to his life is not oppressive but an honour; for, she receives the pleasure and rewards of her Creator. The same can be said for the man fulfilling his role as a husband of providing for the family, consulting with the wife over affairs and being constantly observant over her physical and emotional welfare. The Prophet (saw) said, ""Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands. To each of such women is set down a reward equivalent to the reward of a 1000 martyrs..."" For the mother to nurture her children physically, emotionally and with the Islamic culture, by feeding them, bathing them, playing with them and smiling at them, is a great honour.

    The Prophet (saw) has said, "When a woman breast feeds, for every gulp of milk she will receive a reward as if she had granted life to a being, and when she weans her child, the angels pat her on the back saying, 'Congratulations! All your past sins have been forgiven, now start all over again'" [Riyadh al Salihin].


    He (saw) also said, "During pregnancy until the time of childbirth, and until the end of the suckling period, a woman earns reward similar to that of the person who is guarding the borders of Islam" [Al-Tabarani].


    2. The Honour of the Muslim Woman in Society

    Allah (swt) has commanded the man to view the woman as an honour to be protected at all times, whether it is his mother, wife, daughter or any woman within society. The Prophet (saw) once told Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra), "Shall I not inform you about the best treasure a man can hoard? It is a virtuous wife who pleases him whenever he looks towards her, and who guards herself when he is absent from her."

    On another occasion, he (saw) said, "The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman." In his last sermon to the Muslims, he reminded them, "O People, it is true that you have certain rights, with regards to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah's trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers."


    He (saw) has also said, "Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favour his son over her, God will enter him into paradise."


    A man at the time of the Prophet (saw) came to him and asked, "I have carried my mother single handed around the Ka'ba seven times, does this repay the kindness she showed me as a child?" The Prophet replied, "It does not even repay one contraction of the womb." This is the way that Allah (swt) has described the honour of the woman.


    Within an Islamic society, such an understanding will affect the men within the society at large, who will view the woman as an honour, regardless of whether she has a career or not. They will not belittle the position of the wife and mother but regard it with the highest of esteem. This can be illustrated by an example at the time of the Khilafah of Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) when a Jew was found killed. Umar asked the people if they knew about the matter, whereupon a Muslim called Bak'r bin Shad'dakh appeared before him and said, "I have killed him." Umar (ra) was astonished and asked him for the reason. The man explained that a Muslim brother had gone on Jihad and consigned his family members to him to look over in his absence. When he arrived at the house of the brother, he had found the Jew inside reciting poetry slandering the reputation of the brother's wife by implying that he had spent the night with her in his absence. As a result, he killed him to protect the honour of the woman who had been placed under his protection. On hearing all the details, Umar (ra) exempted him from paying any ransom.


    3. Honour of the Muslim Woman Secured by the Khilafah


    Having understood the command of Allah (swt) to ensure the honour and security of the Muslim woman within the society, we should ask ourselves why such a reality is not present today. The examples of how the woman faces shame and humiliation from pornography, to rape, to domestic violence every day in the Muslim lands and societies has already been detailed. The reason is clear, it is due to the absence of the Khilafah system. The question that now needs to be addressed is "How can this reality of the honour of the woman be secured once again within a society?" The answer is simple; it can only be through the re-establishment of the Khilafah. Then, we will have the ability to propagate the correct viewpoint to the individuals within the society through the education system and the media, and we will have the authority to enforce the appropriate punishments upon those who dishonour women.


    Let us examine two examples to illustrate how the honour of the Muslim woman was protected under the Khilafah of the past, compared to the reality of the world today.


    The first example is that of slander against the reputation of an individual. Today, this is not seen as a severe crime, but Islam views this as a serious issue and has prescribed lashings as the punishment for such an action. During the Khilafah of Umar (ra), a slave girl complained to him, in his capacity as the Khalifah, against her master by saying, "My master has accused me of adultery and punished me by forcing me to sit on fire. Thus my private part is burnt." Umar (ra) asked, "Has your master seen you committing adultery?" She replied in the negative. Umar (ra) asked, "Have you made any confession before him?" She answered "No." Thereafter, Umar (ra) called that man and asked, "Do you punish like the punishment of Allah?"" He said, "I had developed suspicion about the slave girl." Umar (ra) asked, "Have you seen her committing adultery?"" The master denied to have seen her doing so. Umar (ra) asked, "Has she confessed about doing so?" The master again said "No!" Upon this, Umar (ra) said, "I swear by the one who holds my life that had I not heard the Prophet (saw) saying that a slave cannot take ransom from his master and a child from his father, I would have certainly taken revenge on you." Afterwards, Umar (ra) gave the master 100 lashes and freed the slave girl. Such is how the honour of the woman is protected under the Khilafah through its authority, which ensures the implementation of the hudud of Allah (swt).


    The second example is also cited during the Khalifah of Umar (ra). While he was visiting Syria, a Jew came to him and complained that a Muslim had beaten him badly. Umar (ra) asked one of the companions, Suhaib (ra), to find out who was guilty of the action. The accused was Auf bin Malik Ashjai (ra) who was brought in front of Umar (ra) and asked to explain his actions. He replied, ""Let it be known to you that the plaintiff was driving away a Muslim lady on his ass and on the way he gave her a jerk so that she would fall from the ass, but when she did not fall he pushed her. When she fell down, he mounted on the lady and lay with his face downward."" The father and husband of the woman confirmed his story. Umar (ra) ordered for the Jew to be killed.


    It can be seen clearly from such examples that in order to establish the rule of Allah (swt) in protecting the honour of the Muslims within the society, it requires the presence of the structures of the Khilafah. During the time when the earth was blessed with the cool breeze of the Islamic State, harmony was brought to societies and tranquillity to individuals in turmoil. Women felt secure in their homes and on the street. It is not a successful career in itself, financial independence or the fewer clothes that are worn, that brings a woman honour and success, but the abiding of the commands of her Creator and the establishment of the Islamic State over her.


    The Islamic State brought true honour to the woman who had, for so many years, been viewed simply as a commodity and object to satisfy the desires of men. For 1400 years the woman remained protected, safe and valued. With the loss of her shield, the Khilafah, she has once again become an economic commodity in the palm of the capitalist and an object of desire within the capitalist way of life. The protection of the honour of the Muslim in the society is not an option but an obligation. The responsibility then is for the believing man and woman to work with all their efforts to re-install the body that will achieve the fulfilment of this obligation within the society: The Khilafah!"

  • "A-úthú billáhi minash shaytánir rajím. Bismilláhir Rahmánir Rahím!

    My brothers and sisters everywhere! Islamic law - that Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) sent down to His Messenger Muhammad - came to announce that women are full human beings exactly as men are. Women, like men, are therefore required to follow the way appointed by Allah.

    A woman, like a man, is therefore obligated with all three degrees of this religion:

    Islam (outward submission to Allah)
    Iman (inward faith in Allah)
    Ihsan (perfection of worship of Allah).

    It is thus required for every woman to testify that there is none deserving worship but Allah, and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger; to pray; to give charity; to fast; and to make a pilgrimage to Allah's House if she has the means.

    It is likewise required for every woman to believe in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His messengers, the Last Day, and to believe in Allah's decree (and that the good and evil consequences thereof are from Allah).

    These are the fundamentals of Islam and Iman.

    It is likewise required for every woman to worship Allah as if she sees Him. For although she cannot see Allah, she must believe that He sees whatever she does in secret and in public.

    Women (exactly like men) have been commanded with these three levels of the religion: Islam, Iman, and Ihsan.

    Women are also obligated to command good and forbid evil; to wage jihad by saying that which is truthful; and to adhere to all noble behavior, like truthfulness, trustworthiness, courage, modesty, and self-respect.

    Every Muslim woman is commanded to be steadfast in her religion and not to be negligent with her faith. It is impermissible for her - under any pressure or compulsion - to open her heart to accept the word of disbelief. Hence every Muslim woman falls under Allah's statement: ""Whose disbelieves in Allah, after he has believed - excepting him who has been compelled, and his heart is still at rest with the Faith - but whosoever's breast is expanded in unbelief, upon them shall rest anger from Allah, and there awaits them a mighty chastisement." (Qur'an 16:106)


    Clearly when Islam charged women with all these duties and in all these obligations made her equal to men, the intent was to honor her and permit her to reach the highest degree of perfection of her being. The duties that Allah has obligated humanity with are but a means to honor us. Prayer, as well as fasting, is an honor for the servant and a means to raise his rank. To adhere to Allah's straight path and the manners of Islam are, without doubt, a means to honor us and not to humiliate us as imagined by those who are ignorant of Allah and follow their desires.


    Such (ignorant) people think and imagine that a human being who does not believe in Allah, does not uphold the trust of these duties, and does not perform what Allah has commanded him is of a higher standing than the believer who adheres to the obligations of Islam. Such an idea is ignorance and renders human beings on a par with the animals. Humans have been created to be tried by Allah and have been charged with fulfilling these duties to Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) and His creatures. As for animals, while they have been created by Allah, they have not been charged with this trust. Whoever considers that a human being who does not uphold what Allah has obligated as equal to those who fulfill what Allah has obligated is like those who consider humans and animals to be equal. For this reason, Allah has said:

    "Shall we treat that those who have surrendered (as Muslims) as We treat the guilty?" (Qur'an 68:35)

    And He has said:

    "We have crated for Hell many of the jinn and humanity; they have hearts, but understand not with them; they have eyes, but perceive not with them; and they have ears, but they hear not with them. These are like cattle; nay, rather they are further astray! Those - they are the heedless." (Qur'an 7:126)


    The disbeliever in Allah is a guilty criminal, for he does not accept whom He is to worship, i.e., his Creator, his Protector, his Lord, and He Who created this universe in which he lives. The disbeliever enjoys what Allah has blessed him with and yet ignores the One Who blessed and preferred him with such blessings. As for the believer, he is the honorable servant who knows His Lord and Creator, Allah, Whom he worships. He fulfills what Allah has obligated and travels upon the path that Allah has delineated for him."

  • "Of the great faiths, Islam has been foremost in assigning to woman a position of economic independence. It is well known that in the United Kingdom till as late as 1882, when the first Married Women's Property Act was passed by Parliament, a married woman could hold no property of her own, independently of her husband. Any property that a femme sole (unmarried woman) held in her own right vested automatically in her husband on her marriage. A hundred years later traces still linger in certain aspects of British Law which illustrate a married woman's position of dependence upon her husband.

    The Mahr (Dowry)

    In Islam the independent economic position of woman has been established since the very beginning. Mention has been made of the obligation of the husband to make a settlement on the wife, in proportion to his means, at the time of marriage. This settlement is called dower (mehr). If at the time of the death of the husband the wife's dower should be still unpaid, it ranks as a debt to be discharged out of his estate, in priority to all his other debts. In addition, the widow is entitled to her share in the husband's estate, which is determined by law.


    Any property that a woman might acquire by her own effort, or might inherit as an heir or receive as a legacy or gift, belongs to her independently of her husband. She may ask her husband to manage it, but if she chooses to manage or administer it herself, he cannot interfere in her management or administration of it.


    Married Woman Is Not Responsible for Financial Upkeep of Home


    A married woman who possesses means of her own may, and in most cases does, contribute a portion or the whole of her independent means towards the upkeep of the household, but is under no obligation to do so. The upkeep of the household is the entire responsibility of the husband, even when the wife is in her own right better off than her husband.

    This is well illustrated by the following incident. The Holy Prophet, peace be on him, on one occasion admonished women to spend in charity out of their own means also. Thereafter two women, both bearing the name of Zainab, one of them the wife of the well known companion Abdullah bin Masood, came to him and told him that their respective husbands were men of straitened means, but that they in their own rights were comparatively better off. Would it be an act of spiritual merit if they were to assist their husbands out of their own means?


    The Holy Prophet assured them their spending on their husbands would be doubly meritorious, as it would rank both as charity and as graciousness towards kindred. The Holy Quran admonishes:


    Covet not that whereby Allah has made some of you excel others. Men shall have a portion of that which they earn and women shall have a portion of that which they earn. Ask Allah alone of His bounty. Surely, Allah has perfect knowledge of all things. (4:33)

    For everyone leaving an inheritance We have appointed heirs, parents and near relations, and also husbands and wives to whom you are bound by solemn covenants. So give all of them their appointed shares. Surely, Allah watches over all things. (4:34)

    Inheritance

    The Islamic system of succession and inheritance, set out in 4:12-13 and 177, aims at a wide distribution of property. If a person should die leaving his or her surviving parents, wife or husband, sons and daughters, they all share in the inheritance; the general rule being that the share of a male is double that of a female in the same degree of relationship. In this there is no discrimination against female heirs in view of the obligation of the male to provide for his family, while the female has no such obligation. In practice the rule works out favorably for female heirs.

    A Muslim may not dispose of more than one-third of his assets by testamentary directions. Legacies, whether for charity or in favor of non-heirs, must not exceed one-third of net assets; nor may the share of an heir be augmented or diminished by testamentary direction. There is no room for discrimination between the heirs under the Islamic system of inheritance, like, for instance, primogeniture, or exclusion of females.


    Legal Testimony

    A direction designed to secure the preservation of testimony relating to civil transactions, which requires that they must be reduced to writing, is sometime mistakenly seized upon as evidence of discrimination against females. The direction is as follows:


    Procure two witnesses from among your men; and if two men be not available, then one man and two women, of such as you like as witnesses, so that if either of the two women should be in danger of forgetting, the other may refresh her memory. (2:283)


    There is here not the slightest trace of discrimination. The normal rule is that women should be safeguarded against the contingency of having to appear as witnesses in judicial proceedings. Therefore, normally a woman should not be called upon to attest a document recording a transaction. This rule may be relaxed in an emergency. But then another difficulty would arise. In the case of male witnesses their memory of a transaction that they attest as witnesses would be refreshed when they met socially and the transaction was recalled for one reason or another. In the case of a document recording a transaction, which is attested by one male and one female witness, the female witness, under the Islamic social system, as will presently be appreciated, would not normally have frequent occasion to meet the male witness and talk to him, so that there would be little chance of her memory of the transaction being refreshed. To overcome this lack of opportunity of refreshing the memory, it is wisely provided that where only one male witness is available two female witnesses may be called upon so that, in the very words of the text, one may refresh the memory of the other.


    This provision is concerned only with the preservation of evidence, and does not deal with the weight to be attached to the testimony of a male or female witness. An illustration may help to clear up any doubt on the matter. Assume that a transaction recorded in a document attested by one male and two female witnesses becomes the subject of a dispute which comes up for judicial determination. It is then discovered that one of the two female witnesses has in the meantime died. The male witness and the surviving female witness are examined in court and the judge finds that their respective accounts of the terms of the transaction are not entirely in harmony; but he feels very strongly that taking every relevant factor into consideration the testimony of the female witness is more reliable than that of the male witness. In such a case it would be his plain duty to rely on the testimony of the female witness in preference to that of the male witness. There could be no question of discrimination in favor of or against a woman."

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