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Nikki1234
01-19-2018, 11:17 PM
I was listening to a lecture that made me wonder why don't angles come in the form of women and why aren't any of the messengers of Allah female? Some people think that women are inferior and use the religion to justify their thinking. For example, the witnesses of one man is considered to be equal to two women. Why? These issues surrounding feminism are a big issue for me. I was raised believing men and women were different with different purposes but, equal. Does Allah love us? Does Allah love women? If I get married why do I have to submit to my husband? How come whatever he says is what's going to happen no matter how I feel. And what's up with Surah An-Nisa 4:34 "beat them" ? I struggle with these things a lot and I really hope you can answer my questions or direct me to someone who can. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Shukran. Baraakallahu feek
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azc
01-20-2018, 01:37 AM
http://www.islamswomen.com/articles/...n_in_islam.php- - - Updated - - -http://haqislam.org/articles/marriage/
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Zafran
01-20-2018, 02:40 AM
Originally Posted by Nikki1234
I was raised believing men and women were different with different purposes but, equal.
salaam

this pretty much is what Islam teaches - Fairness (because of differences) and general equality (on matters of deen) - but I'll let others answer the other Questions on women issues.
Reply

Search
01-20-2018, 03:04 AM
:bism: (In the Name of God, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful)

From what I understand angels are neither male nor female nor do they procreate. And in fact, in the Qur'an, a verse (53:27) says, "Those who believe not in the hereafter, name the angels with female names." This was because in pagan Arabia, the pagans used to consider angelic beings as necessarily female, and Allah says in the Qur'an that they themselves hated for females to be born to them yet chose falsely to attribute daughters to Allah, informing them that they only follow conjecture. They created images to worship that they imagined are these angels whom they used to worship as goddesses. So, all we truly know is that angels are obedient to Allah, and they perform acts of worship and tasks with which they are tasked (as per Divine Will).

It is true, however, that all prophets (peace be upon them all) were males. However, who birthed them? Women. If Allah had not loved women, no prophet (peace be upon them all) would have been born to females. Also, remember, sister, all prophets (peace be upon them all) were tortured in different ways when they came with the message of the Oneness of God because they asked people to forsake what they worshiped that was from their forefather's religion. What way do you imagine is the easiest to torture a woman if chosen as a prophetess? Rape. We already know, for example, that men have both in historical times and up to our contemporary time use rape as a tool of battle in a war against a nation or people or persons. A lot of Myanmar women have been raped, and their only fault in bringing this rape upon themselves was that they profess Islam and are Muslim. Can Allah not love His female slaves enough to not place them in a position wherein they might have to bear the worst violation possible, only for bringing the message of Oneness of Allah? Remember, sister, rape is not only a physical violation of a female's body but the ultimate act of violence that also makes the female feel as if she's been raped spiritually, emotionally, and mentally as well. That may be one reason, that is, Allah's care and mercy for women made Allah to give this responsibility to men only. However, ultimately, the complete wisdom of having only males as prophets (peace be upon them all) is known only to Allah.

First, in Islam, the testimony of women is accepted solely in different cases and in other specific cases requires two women and in another case a woman's testimony is preferred to a man. The situations in which a woman's testimony solely is accepted is 1) the sighting of the crescent moon, 2) when a woman repudiates accusation of infidelity or adultery from her husband known as oath of lian, and 3) female matters. The case in which a woman's testimony is preferred is, for example, when an individual discovers a hitherto undisclosed defect in the other spouse and subsequently a neutrally reliable female witness is called upon who can also be subsequently trusted to have her testimony accepted by both parties. The case where 2 women are required is in cases of debts and that is probably largely due to the fact that mostly males historically and probably even a large segment of males in contemporary societies across the globe today can be observed to have men deeming financial matters their domain and so typically they have continued to handle all financial affairs of the household .

And in Islam, men and women are considered not in competition but as being complementary to one another, and the idea in Islam is that a healthy society flourishes when both genders understand their roles and responsibilities and give the other its rights and in so doing show their submission to Allah. As for submission that is required of women in terms of their husbands, the idea is that for harmony to reign in a household, especially since males desire spousal respect above love, the wife ideally utilizes opportunities to have discussions with her husband and is involved in decision-making but after discussion acquiesces to her husband's decision if his differs from hers. Submitting to a husband does not mean that you have to obey him in that which constitutes disobedience to Allah or that you have to always agree like a mindless doll. Hopefully, any male whom you'll marry will treat you as a human being (one who just happens to be female) and will take into consideration that you have your own inner thoughts, feelings, and ideas and will want and encourage you to share yours; as a wife, you are thereby always encouraged to address and discuss at length your feelings, your thoughts, your ideas on any given situation as and when you see fit and exercise your influence on your husband as you deem proper in any choice you want to make as a couple or family if children are involved; however, after discussion, if both partners reach different conclusions, deferring to your husband in a choice is the best solution and a highly desirable outcome in alignment with Islam because it prevents the man from feeling emasculated by the wife which may lead to breeding of masculine resentment and withdrawal in a relationship and marital discord. You have incredible feminine power as a woman; you can influence the male of our species in any manner you want but not by going against a man's natural instincts to feel that he retains control and is not being dominated. Rather, if you submit to him as a wife, he will without knowing how it happened, submit to you; it is rather a matter of giving him what he wants to get what you want. Islam clearly saw this truth of male-female relationships 1400 years ago and so both spouses are asked to submit to Allah and the woman is asked to submit to the husband and the husband is explicitly told in a prophetic tradition, "Among the Muslims the most perfect, as regards his faith, is the one whose character is excellent, and the best among you are those who treat their wives well" (Trimidhi 628).

In Islam, it is the character and manners of Prophet :saws: (peace and blessings be upon him) whom we're supposed to emulate as Muslims.

Prophet :saws: had his character described as the "Qur'an" by his wife Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her). Prophet :saws: is the embodiment of the Qur'an, the living and breathing Qur'an whose example we're supposed to follow. And it is him :saws: we're supposed to emulate in all matters. And Prophet :saws: never beat or hit any of his wives. Ever.

Prophet :saws: once said, "Could any of you beat your wife as he would a slave, and then lie with her in the evening?" (Bukhari and Muslim.) This was taken as a no-no as to the barometer of how to treat women. And then other prophetic traditions apparently have said, "Never beat God's handmaidens" (Abu Da’ud, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Ibn Hibban and Hakim, on the authority of Iyas ibn ‘Abd Allah; Ibn Hibban, on the authority of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abbas; and Bayhaqi, on the authority of Umm Kulthum). Moreover, other limits clearly indicate that causing any pain or leaving a mark or hitting the face is not to be done. So, the translators of the Arabic Qur'an into English might use the words "beat them" but it has enough qualifiers that as Muslims we should confidently be able to say that the purpose of any allowance was to place limits on stubborn wife-beaters to make them introspect and think twice so that perchance these men may reform and either choose to completely abstain from this practice or at the very least prevent them from bringing further harm to the women under their power than they're already so inclined to do.

Allah loves all of His worshipful slaves. And some of the best evidence or signs of Allah's regard and love for women is the kind and best treatment encouraged towards women in all their various roles as mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters:
1) Children are to give a mother three times preference above the father based on prophetic traditions.
2) Prophet :saws: saying, “Fear Allah concerning women! Verily you have taken them on the guarantee of Allah...
3) Prophet :saws: saying, "A believer must not harm (his) believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics, he will be pleased with another."
4) A woman has only to please her husband to enter Paradise based on prophetic traditions.
5) Prophet :saws: saying, "...[T]he best among you are those who treat their wives well."
6) “…And whoever brings up three daughters or a like number of sisters, training them well and showing kindness to them till Allah enriches them (i.e. till they reach the age of puberty), Allah will guarantee Paradise for him.” A man asked: “O Messenger of Allah! [:saws:] Does this apply to two also?” He :saws: said: “even to two.” (If they had asked whether to one also, the Messenger of Allah :saws: probably would have said: “even to one…”)
7) Prophet :saws: saying, "Whoever has two daughters and treats them kindly, they will be a protection for him against the Fire."
8) "Whichever (people) are tried by any of them (girls), and he treats them kindly, they will screen him from the fire (of Hell)."
9)
"O Allah, I declare inviolable the rights of two weak ones: the orphans and women."

Sister, Islam has honored women, as they're seen as human beings, (a) worthy of being respected in all their roles and (b) cherished in and for their uniqueness, and (c) given rights that are their own upon which no one (i.e. man) is allowed to infringe.

Originally Posted by Nikki1234
I was listening to a lecture that made me wonder why don't angles come in the form of women and why aren't any of the messengers of Allah female? Some people think that women are inferior and use the religion to justify their thinking. For example, the witnesses of one man is considered to be equal to two women. Why? These issues surrounding feminism are a big issue for me. I was raised believing men and women were different with different purposes but, equal. Does Allah love us? Does Allah love women? If I get married why do I have to submit to my husband? How come whatever he says is what's going to happen no matter how I feel. And what's up with Surah An-Nisa 4:34 "beat them" ? I struggle with these things a lot and I really hope you can answer my questions or direct me to someone who can. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Shukran. Baraakallahu feek
Reply

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Zzz_
01-20-2018, 07:09 PM
Originally Posted by Nikki1234
I was listening to a lecture that made me wonder why don't angles come in the form of women and why aren't any of the messengers of Allah female?
From logical point of view. Throughout history, men have been the dominant gender. Before Islam, the pagan arabs used to bury alive girls born to their homes. Woman didn't even have a soul and were considered subhuman in Europe. So you can see no one would have taken women seriously and would have burned her alive as a witch if she made claims of prophethood. Prophethood is a not an easy job, you have to go against everything the society believes and call the people to the right path. And in that position they were abused and even killed for calling people to God. It's not a job for the light heart-ed. Women and men by nature are created different, each one's natural disposition makes them more suitable for some roles and not others.

If angels came in the form of a woman, they would have been treated the same way as well. Plus a female form talking to the prophet of God would only sow suspicion as why is this woman so close to the messenger of God and shaytan would put impure thoughts in the hearts of men.

From an islamic point of view, visit here : https://islamqa.info/en/158044

Some people think that women are inferior and use the religion to justify their thinking. For example, the witnesses of one man is considered to be equal to two women. Why? These issues surrounding feminism are a big issue for me.
First of all, feminism has no place in islam, it is a creation of the west designed to destroy the family institution by telling the women to burn their bras and go try to stand shoulder to shoulder with men and try to be equal to them, when that is not possible given the different nature of each gender.

Secondly, i wouldn't use the word inferior as it has a negative connotation to it. I think more appropriate word would be to say men are a degree higher than woman. And this is not mean that one is better than the other, because the Prophet (pbuh) said, " Verily the best among you is he who has the most taqwah (piety)." and "Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but He looks at your hearts and actions."

Rather what this means is that Allah has created the two sexes of different capacity. For example,
Men are stronger then women physically and mentally.
Men are limited by menstrual cycles that not only make some women bed ridden for that time period but also make women deficient in the religion in the sense she is unable to perform her religious duties (praying, fast, etc) while in that state.

visit here to read about why men are superior or a degree higher - https://islamqa.info/en/43252
visit here to read about why 2 witnesses - https://islamqa.info/en/20051

Now this doesn't mean that women are inferior creatures to be shunned and looked down upon. All this means is that each gender is created different with different purpose and responsibilities and given different level of capacity.

I was raised believing men and women were different with different purposes but, equal.
Islam is not about equality. There is no such thing in Islam. Rather Islam is about justice, giving everyone according to their needs.

Visit here to read about that inshallah - https://islamqa.info/en/1105




Does Allah love us? Does Allah love women?
of course. Allah loves all His believers and His love for them grows based on their devotion to Him, not their gender.

Islam abolished the practice of killing female children and raised the stature of women in society to one of dignity, esteem, and privilege. Allah devotes an entire chapter of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, to women. In addition, He directly addresses women repeatedly throughout the Quran. Islam proclaims that all human beings, men and women, are born in a pure state.

Nobility in sight of Allah is not based on gender but one's piety. "…Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you…” (49:13)

and equal opportunity is given to both genders : "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 their actions." [Noble Quran 16:97, see also 4:124]


As a woman, Allah gave her full rights at a time a woman was considered a property of man all over the world.

"The women have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable." (2:228)

As a mother, He has also given her 3 degrees/levels above a man.

A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who is most deserving of my good company?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Then your father.”

The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "Woman is the queen of her house.

As a wife, Prophet (pbuh) said, best among you is the one whose kindest to his wife.

All of this and many more examples and commands/hadiths found in Islam shows Allah's love for her and the status He raised her to in the society.


If I get married why do I have to submit to my husband? How come whatever he says is what's going to happen no matter how I feel.
Allah has given one more responsibility than the other and made one a guardian of the other. It is the men's responsibility to provide for their women, even if she has her own wealth. It's their responsibility to take care of their family in both worldly and religious matters. And it is they who will be questioned and held accountable on Judgement Day for this.

A nation has one leader (president, king, etc), an army has one commander, a school has one principal, and every organization unit has one leader to lead them. The family institutional unit is no different. There has to be one leader to lead the family and that responsibility has been given to men.

Allah says, “And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise” [al-Baqarah 2:228]

As far as obedience go, it is not blind obedience. If the husband asks of something that is against Islam then no obedience is required. The obedience to Allah and His commands supersede all other commands. As for other things, while the wife does have to obey the husband, however, Islam does encourage for mutual cooperation. So that means he should discuss with her important matters unless its something he has to handle himself.

And what's up with Surah An-Nisa 4:34 "beat them" ? I struggle with these things a lot and I really hope you can answer my questions or direct me to someone who can. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Shukran. Baraakallahu feek
The problem with translations is that they are just translations, words chosen by some person who thinks they reflect the right meaning of the original word and that decision too is reliant upon the level of vocabulary that person has. So it's never 100% reliable. And this I believe is one of those cases. You are not allowed to hit, strike or beat your wife. Those words by definition means to inflict considerable harm to the other. I think a more appropriate word would be 'discipline' as it should not cause her pain. The idea isn't to cause pain or physical harm but to rebuke the person for their actions. And this to is like the last resort after exhausting other options, and this in regards to serous matters and not just every day thing to do.

visit here to read more about it inshallah - https://islamqa.info/en/41199
Reply

A786
01-20-2018, 08:28 PM
Originally Posted by Nikki1234
I was listening to a lecture that made me wonder why don't angles come in the form of women and why aren't any of the messengers of Allah female? Some people think that women are inferior and use the religion to justify their thinking. For example, the witnesses of one man is considered to be equal to two women. Why? These issues surrounding feminism are a big issue for me. I was raised believing men and women were different with different purposes but, equal. Does Allah love us? Does Allah love women? If I get married why do I have to submit to my husband? How come whatever he says is what's going to happen no matter how I feel. And what's up with Surah An-Nisa 4:34 "beat them" ? I struggle with these things a lot and I really hope you can answer my questions or direct me to someone who can. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Shukran. Baraakallahu feek


Sister, Allah and his prophet (PBUH) treat women with full dignity and respect; in fact they are queens of Islam. Do not once think Allah have made us less valuable or worthy than man; in this way we are the same. The correct way of Islam is to treat your woman with complete respect and be gentle with her at all times (this is sunaah from the Prophet). Women are made from a man's rib so men are to protect women and care for them until their last breath. Allah has bestowed upon us nothing but worthy and respect. He has doubled a pregnant woman's worship than a man, a mother's jihad is greater than a mans (subhanAllah).

With that said, Islam does not permit any man (husband, father) to "beat" his lady; rather this is used to "discipline" a wife if she unfairly disobeys her husband; also to add, "beat" is not used in its LITERAL meaning, it could just mean a slight slap. For example, if she is continuously rebellious, treat her husband like trash, de-values his worthiness, scolds and yells at him and creates nothing but stress in the home, he is then able to "discipline" her and of course this is LIMITED. He should not "beat" her.

Also, your question about inferiority; yes it is true that in Islam women and men are EQUAL, in a sense that they both deserve dignity and respect, but at the same time their roles in society are diverse. Men, are the protectors and shelters of women (mother, sister, wife etc..) and are responsible of taking care of them and their expenses (he is the breadwinner), and women's roles in Islam is the predominantly take care of the home (cooking, cleaning, nursing and teaching children good values-- this BTW is also for the man as any role requiring children and home should be shared). In this way they are "unequal" but this should not be taking as a negative connotation, rather if you look at it men have double the role of women because they should also help around in the home, whereas woman are moreso liable for the in home chores. However, if women want to work outisde the home, they can so with the permission of her husband.

Society today has brainwashed us into thinking men and women are "equal" when Islam has clearly given diverse roles for both genders. This creates balance.

- - - Updated - - -

Also, your concern about why Allah has not made any woman a messenger of Allah is probably (in my opinion) because the messengers have faced intense physical, spiritual and mental distress from society and women in Islam are seen as precious beings who need not to be physically harmed. They should be treated only with generousness and gentleness.

Think about it, suppose one of our messengers was a woman, she would be 10 times more vulnerable than any other man; society could have taking physical advantage of her and her respect would have been gone just like that, whereas a man he remains stronger and less vulnerable. Makes sense?

In other words, Allah has not any woman a messenger because he ordered for them to be PROTECTED.

- - - Updated - - -

Originally Posted by Zzz_
From logical point of view. Throughout history, men have been the dominant gender. Before Islam, the pagan arabs used to bury alive girls born to their homes. Woman didn't even have a soul and were considered subhuman in Europe. So you can see no one would have taken women seriously and would have burned her alive as a witch if she made claims of prophethood. Prophethood is a not an easy job, you have to go against everything the society believes and call the people to the right path. And in that position they were abused and even killed for calling people to God. It's not a job for the light heart-ed. Women and men by nature are created different, each one's natural disposition makes them more suitable for some roles and not others.

If angels came in the form of a woman, they would have been treated the same way as well. Plus a female form talking to the prophet of God would only sow suspicion as why is this woman so close to the messenger of God and shaytan would put impure thoughts in the hearts of men.

From an islamic point of view, visit here : https://islamqa.info/en/158044



First of all, feminism has no place in islam, it is a creation of the west designed to destroy the family institution by telling the women to burn their bras and go try to stand shoulder to shoulder with men and try to be equal to them, when that is not possible given the different nature of each gender.

Secondly, i wouldn't use the word inferior as it has a negative connotation to it. I think more appropriate word would be to say men are a degree higher than woman. And this is not mean that one is better than the other, because the Prophet (pbuh) said, " Verily the best among you is he who has the most taqwah (piety)." and "Verily, Allah does not look at your appearance or wealth, but He looks at your hearts and actions."

Rather what this means is that Allah has created the two sexes of different capacity. For example,
Men are stronger then women physically and mentally.
Men are limited by menstrual cycles that not only make some women bed ridden for that time period but also make women deficient in the religion in the sense she is unable to perform her religious duties (praying, fast, etc) while in that state.

visit here to read about why men are superior or a degree higher - https://islamqa.info/en/43252
visit here to read about why 2 witnesses - https://islamqa.info/en/20051

Now this doesn't mean that women are inferior creatures to be shunned and looked down upon. All this means is that each gender is created different with different purpose and responsibilities and given different level of capacity.



Islam is not about equality. There is no such thing in Islam. Rather Islam is about justice, giving everyone according to their needs.

Visit here to read about that inshallah - https://islamqa.info/en/1105






of course. Allah loves all His believers and His love for them grows based on their devotion to Him, not their gender.

Islam abolished the practice of killing female children and raised the stature of women in society to one of dignity, esteem, and privilege. Allah devotes an entire chapter of the Quran, the holy book of Islam, to women. In addition, He directly addresses women repeatedly throughout the Quran. Islam proclaims that all human beings, men and women, are born in a pure state.

Nobility in sight of Allah is not based on gender but one's piety. "…Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you…” (49:13)

and equal opportunity is given to both genders : "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 their actions." [Noble Quran 16:97, see also 4:124]


As a woman, Allah gave her full rights at a time a woman was considered a property of man all over the world.

"The women have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable." (2:228)

As a mother, He has also given her 3 degrees/levels above a man.

A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who is most deserving of my good company?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Then your father.”

The Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "Woman is the queen of her house.

As a wife, Prophet (pbuh) said, best among you is the one whose kindest to his wife.

All of this and many more examples and commands/hadiths found in Islam shows Allah's love for her and the status He raised her to in the society.




Allah has given one more responsibility than the other and made one a guardian of the other. It is the men's responsibility to provide for their women, even if she has her own wealth. It's their responsibility to take care of their family in both worldly and religious matters. And it is they who will be questioned and held accountable on Judgement Day for this.

A nation has one leader (president, king, etc), an army has one commander, a school has one principal, and every organization unit has one leader to lead them. The family institutional unit is no different. There has to be one leader to lead the family and that responsibility has been given to men.

Allah says, “And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise” [al-Baqarah 2:228]

As far as obedience go, it is not blind obedience. If the husband asks of something that is against Islam then no obedience is required. The obedience to Allah and His commands supersede all other commands. As for other things, while the wife does have to obey the husband, however, Islam does encourage for mutual cooperation. So that means he should discuss with her important matters unless its something he has to handle himself.



The problem with translations is that they are just translations, words chosen by some person who thinks they reflect the right meaning of the original word and that decision too is reliant upon the level of vocabulary that person has. So it's never 100% reliable. And this I believe is one of those cases. You are not allowed to hit, strike or beat your wife. Those words by definition means to inflict considerable harm to the other. I think a more appropriate word would be 'discipline' as it should not cause her pain. The idea isn't to cause pain or physical harm but to rebuke the person for their actions. And this to is like the last resort after exhausting other options, and this in regards to serous matters and not just every day thing to do.

visit here to read more about it inshallah - https://islamqa.info/en/41199


I read your comment right after I posted mine and I agree 100% with you in every statement you ahve made. This is exactly what I was trying to say.

Islam has noting to do with gender equality, rather justice; one with the most Eeman and Taqwah get their rewards accordingly (Allah judges without appearnece, socail statues etc.. rather only hearts and actions)

Good say !
Reply

A786
01-20-2018, 11:04 PM
Originally Posted by Nikki1234
I was listening to a lecture that made me wonder why don't angles come in the form of women and why aren't any of the messengers of Allah female? Some people think that women are inferior and use the religion to justify their thinking. For example, the witnesses of one man is considered to be equal to two women. Why? These issues surrounding feminism are a big issue for me. I was raised believing men and women were different with different purposes but, equal. Does Allah love us? Does Allah love women? If I get married why do I have to submit to my husband? How come whatever he says is what's going to happen no matter how I feel. And what's up with Surah An-Nisa 4:34 "beat them" ? I struggle with these things a lot and I really hope you can answer my questions or direct me to someone who can. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this. Shukran. Baraakallahu feek

Sister, also read the following article (link) of an ex-hindu woman embracing Islam, who speaks about Islam liberating women rather than oppressing them.
perhaps you might intake something from it :

following is from: http://www.islamcan.com/convert-stor...hindu-uk.shtml


Noor, Ex-Hindu, UK

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I came from a purely Hindu family where we were always taught to regard ourselves (i.e. women) as beings who were eventually to be married off and have children and serve the husband - whether he was kind or not. Other than this, I found that there were a lot of things which really oppressed women, such as:

If a woman was widowed, she would always have to wear a white sari (costume), eat vegetarian meals, cut her hair short, and never re-marry. The bride always had to pay the dowry (bridal money) to the husband's family. And the husband could ask for anything, irrespective of whether the bride would have difficulty giving it.

Not only that, if, after marriage, she was not able to pay the full dowry, she would be both emotionally and physically tortured, and could end up being a victim of "kitchen death" where the husband, or both the mother-in-law and the husband, try to set fire to the wife while she is cooking or is in the kitchen and try to make it look like an accidental death. More and more of these instances are taking place. The daughter of a friend of my own father's had the same fate last year!

In addition to all this, men in Hinduism are treated literally as among the gods. In one of the religious Hindu celebrations, unmarried girls pray for and worship an idol representing a particular god (Shira) so that they may have husbands like him. Even my own mother had asked me to do this. This made me see that the Hindu religion, which is based on superstitions and things that have no manifest proof but were merely traditions which oppressed women, could not be right.

Subsequently, when I came to England to study, I thought that at least this is a country which gives equal rights to men and women and does not oppress them. We all have the freedom to do as we like, I thought. Well, as I started to meet people and make new friends, learn about this new society, and go to all the places my friends went to in order to "socialize" (bars, dance halls, etc.), I realized that this "equality" was not so true in practice as it was in theory.

Outwardly, women were seen to be given equal rights in education, work, and so forth, but in reality women were still oppressed in a different, more subtle way. When I went with my friends to those places they hung out at, I found everybody interested to talk to me, and I thought that was normal. But it was only later that I realized how naive I was and recognized what these people were really looking for. I soon began to feel uncomfortable, as if I was not myself: I had to dress in a certain way so that people would like me, and had to talk in a certain way to please them. I soon found that I was feeling more and more uncomfortable, less and less myself, yet I could not get out. Everybody was saying they were enjoying themselves, but I don't call this enjoying.

I think women in this way of life are oppressed: they have to dress in a certain way in order to please and appear more appealing and also talk in a certain way so people like them. During this time, I had not thought about Islam, even though I had some Muslim acquaintances. But I felt I really had to do something to find something that I would be happy and secure with and would feel respected with. Something to believe in that is the right belief, because everybody has a belief that they live according to. If having fun by getting off with other people is someone's belief, they do this. If making money is someone's belief, they do everything to achieve this. If they believe drinking is one way to enjoy life then they do it. But I feel all this leads to nowhere; no one is truly satisfied, and the respect women are looking for is diminishing in this way.

In these days of so called "society of equal rights", you are expected to have a boyfriend (or you're weird!) and to not be a virgin. So this is a form of oppression even though some women do not realize it. When I came to Islam, it was obvious that I had finally found permanent security. A religion, a belief that was so complete and clear in every aspect of life. Many people have a misconception that Islam is an oppressive religion, where women are covered from head to toe and are not allowed any freedom or rights. In fact, women in Islam are given more rights, and have been for the past 1400 years compared to the only-recently rights given to non-Muslim women in some western and some other societies. But there are, even now, societies where women are still oppressed, as I mentioned earlier in relation to Hindu women.

Muslim women have the right to inheritance. They have the right to run their own trade and business. They have the full right to ownership, property, disposal over their wealth to which the husband has no right. They have the right to education, a right to refuse marriage as long as this refusal is according to reasonable and justifiable grounds. The Quran itself, which is the Word of God, contains many verses commanding men to be kind to their wives and stressing the rights of women. Islam gives the right set of rules, because they are NOT made by men, but made by God; hence it is a perfect religion.

Quite often Muslim women are asked why they are covered from head to toe and are told that this is oppression - it is not. In Islam, marriage is an important part of life, the making of the society. Therefore, a woman should not go around showing herself to everybody, only for her husband. Even the man is not allowed to show certain parts of his body to none but his wife. In addition, God has commanded Muslim women to cover themselves for their modesty:

"O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they could be known as such (i.e. decent and chaste) and not molested." (Quran 33:59)

If we look around at any other society, we find that in the majority of cases, women are attacked and molested because of how they are dressed. Another point I'd like to comment on is that the rules and regulation laid down in Islam by God do not apply just to women but to men also. There is no intermingling and free-running between men and women for the benefit of both. Whatever God commands is right, wholesome, pure and beneficial to mankind; there is no doubt about that. A verse in the Quran explains this concept clearly:

"Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts (i.e. from indecency, illegal sexual acts, etc.); that will make for greater purity for them. And God is well aware of what they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and protect their private parts (from indecency, illegal sexual intercourse, etc.); and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments" (Quran 24:31)

When I put on my hijab (veil), I was really happy to do it. In fact, I really want to do it. When I put on the hijab, I felt a great sense of satisfaction and happiness: satisfied that I had obeyed God's command, and happy with the good and blessings that come with it. I have felt secure and protected. In fact people respect me more for it. I could really see the difference in behavior towards me.

Finally, I'd like to say that I had accepted Islam not blindly, or under any compulsion. In the Quran itself there is a verse which says

"Let there be no compulsion in religion" (Quran 2:256)

I accepted Islam with conviction. I have seen, been there, done that, and seen both sides of the story. I know and have experienced what the other side is like, and I know that I have done the right thing. Islam does not oppress women, but rather Islam liberates them and gives them the respect they deserve. Islam is the religion God has chosen for the whole of mankind. Those who accept it are truly liberated from the chains and shackles of mankind, whose ruling and legislating necessitates nothing but the oppression of one group by another and the exploitation and oppression of one sex by the other. This is not the case of Islam which truly liberated women and gave them an individuality not given by any other authority.
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