Hi. One of my reasons for joining this site is to find out about islam.
I have read the koran for many years and the Hadiths in some detail. i have read the teachings of several Imams and one of the areas I have great confusion about is a womans place in Islam. i'm told by Muslims, that it is "lofty" and "Treasured" I'm told by Islamaphobics that It is oppressive and restrictive. Heres my comments:
The translation of the Koran that I am familiar with is here.
The Qur'an clarifies that piety alone, not gender or ethnicity, determines one's status with God:
Qur'an 49:13. O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most noble among you in the sight of Allah is the most pious. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.
This sets out as far as I see that the creator created Men & women. That’s fair enough, cant argue with that!
And the Qur'an further says about the rewards for men and women:
Qur'an 3:195 I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other
My translation says:
[3.195] So their Lord accepted their prayer: That I will not waste the work of a worker among you, whether male or female, the one of you being from the other; they, therefore, who fled and were turned out of their homes and persecuted in My way and who fought and were slain, I will most certainly cover their evil deeds, and I will most certainly make them enter gardens beneath which rivers flow; a reward from Allah, and with Allah is yet better reward.
This misses out the Each of you is equal to the other. I suppose it could be taken as that. Here also, those who are persecuted or fight and die will receive paradise.
Qur'an 4:124 If any do deeds of righteousness,- be they male or female - and have faith, they will enter Heaven, and not the least injustice will be done to them.
Qur'an 16:97 Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, a life that is good and pure and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.
Qur'an 40:40 "He that works evil will not be requited but by the like thereof: and he that works a righteous deed - whether man or woman - and is a Believer- such will enter the Garden (of Bliss): Therein will they have abundance without measure.
That’s nice and clear. My translation adds in “and they are a believer. then they will enter heaven”, which again is fair enough. The three verses are in effect saying the same thing. Righteousness will grant access to heaven. (for both sexes).
33:35 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 the greatest reward.
So Allah’s reward is for both genders equally and this would support equality.
Islam raises the status of the parents and places specific emphasis on one's mother:
Qur'an 31:14 And [God says:] ‘We have enjoined upon man goodness towards his parents: his mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his utter dependence on her lasted two years: [hence, O man,] be grateful towards Me and towards thy parents, [and remember that] with Me is all journeys’ end.”
That’s a nice passage.
A man came to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) asking “ O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Your mother”. The man said “then who else?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “Your mother”. The man asked, “then who else?” The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied “Your mother” When the man asked for the fourth time, only then did the Prophet (peace be upon him) say, “Your father” ( Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
Hmm. Dads are to be ¼ as respected as Mums. That’s not equality. I’m a Dad and whilst my wifes a great mother, I wouldn’t want to be thought of as only deserving 25% of my kids time. Modern perspective no doubt, but I don’t think that makes it wrong. (Im a Monotheist B.T.W not a Muslim)
Read the following incident from another famous companion, Abdullah Ibn Umar.
Abdullah Ibn Umar saw a Yemeni man performing pilgrimage carrying his mother on his back then the man said to Ibn Umar “ I am like a tame camel for her, I have carried her more than she has carried me! Do you think I have paid her back Ibn Umar?”
Ibn Umar said, “No, not even one contraction!” (Bukhari, Book of Manners)
Funny and true! It’s not to do with equality of women however.
Islam has also elevated the status of daughters. The following hadith establishes the unsurpassable reward for kind treatment of one's daugters.
Aisha, wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), said: “A poor woman came to me carrying her two daughters. I gave her three dates to eat. She gave each child a date, and raised the third to her own mouth to eat it. Her daughters asked her to give it to them, so she split the date that she had wanted to eat between them. I was impressed by what she had done, and told the Messenger of Allah P about it. He said, “Allah has decreed Paradise for her because of it”. (Sahih Muslim)
It’s doing a good deed. But if they had been sons, would have it been different? It’s not about equality of the sexes, it’s about being a selfless parent.
And the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Anyone who cares for three daughters, gives them a good upbringing, marries them to good husbands and treats them with compassion, he/she will enter paradise.” A man asked, “What if one only has two, O’ Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Even if one only has two.” Another man asked, “What if one only has one, O’ Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Even if one only has one”. (Sunan Abi Dawud, Musnad Ahmad, Mustadarak Al-Haakim)
Mohammed specifically mentioned daughters here and the need for good parenting (excepting the bit about marrying them off, which is a whole subject in itself to do with lack of choice and freedom in relationships) So Daughters are to be treated well. Sons?
“I command you to be kind to women” (Sahih Bukhari)
Volume 7, Book 62, Number 114:
Narrated Abu Huraira:
The Prophet said, "Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should not hurt (trouble) his neighbor. And I advise you to take care of the women, for they are created from a rib and the most crooked portion of the rib is its upper part; if you try to straighten it, it will break, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked, so I urge you to take care of the women."
In summary, I can see that all the above verses and Hadith indeed relate to kind treatment of women. Abilit the perspective is weighted from that of a man, but the society of that time, as today is a patriarchal one.
So, if all these are adhered to then where is the conception of Islam as being a oppressive religion towards women coming from?
The most commonly quoted allegations are as follows.
This Is a compalation of my own findings & the commentries of others. Some of them are minor points (theres not much slavery left these days)...some I feel a lot more major.
1) Women are to cover themselves to protect themselves from men. To look subserviently downwards and not rattle their jewelry.
And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss.
2) That women are to have half the inheritance of men
Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases ('s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise.
3) That a womans word is worth less and is less reliable than a mans
O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions ….. get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her.
4)Men have an advantage over women.
Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. Nor is it lawful for them to hide what Allah Hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.
5) That men should wash after touching women before prayer
O ye who believe! when ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill, or on a journey, or one of you cometh from offices of nature, or ye have been in contact with women, ….Allah doth not wish to place you in a difficulty, but to make you clean, and to complete his favour to you, that ye may be grateful.
6) That captives or slaves can be married
If ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with the orphans, Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, or (a captive) that your right hands possess, that will be more suitable, to prevent you from doing injustice.
7) Angels cant be women. Admittedly the Bible doesn’t name any female angels, but it dosnt actually say they CANT be! Out of all the allegations levelled at Islam’s treatment of women, this is the daftest.
Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names.
8) No sex with women outside marriage except for Slaves.
It is not allowed thee to take (other) women henceforth, nor that thou shouldst change them for other wives even though their beauty pleased thee, save those whom thy right hand possesseth. And Allah is ever Watcher over all things.
9) Women are Thick, Nagging, Ungrateful and lead men astray, they have cant pray during menses and are therefore deficient.
Bukhari Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
Volume 3, Book 48, Number 826:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
The Prophet said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."
(sorry this is taking a long time..theres a fair bit to get through)
10) Women are mostly going to hell.
Volume 1, Book 2, Number 28:
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
The Prophet said: "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful." It was asked, "Do they disbelieve in Allah?" (or are they ungrateful to Allah?) He replied, "They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them. If you have always been good (benevolent) to one of them and then she sees something in you (not of her liking), she will say, 'I have never received any good from you."
11) Women can in certain conditions, ruin prayer as much as an animal. (although ibn abbas dosnt sound very certain about this)
Abu dawud Book 2, Number 0704:
Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:
Ikrimah reported on the authority of Ibn Abbas, saying: I think the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a Jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer, but it will suffice if they pass in front of him at a distance of over a stone's throw.
12) That women can be handed out as slaves
Ishaq 593 - "From the captives of Hunayn, Allah's Messenger gave [his son-in-law] Ali a slave girl called Baytab and he gave [future Caliph] Uthman a slave girl called Zaynab and [future Caliph] Umar another."
From Bukhari Volume 5, Book 59, Number 447:
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:
The people of (Banu) Quraiza agreed to accept the verdict of Sad bin Mu'adh. So the Prophet sent for Sad, and the latter came (riding) a donkey and when he approached the Mosque, the Prophet said to the Ansar, "Get up for your chief or for the best among you." Then the Prophet said (to Sad)." These (i.e. Banu Quraiza) have agreed to accept your verdict." Sad said, "Kill their (men) warriors and take their offspring as captives, "On that the Prophet said, "You have judged according to Allah's Judgment,"
13). Men excel over women & Beating a wife is permitted, if she wont obay, (but only after other methods have failed)You must stop beating if the wife then obeys the man.
Surah 4:34- "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."
Volume 7, Book 72, Number 715:
Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!" When 'AbdurRahman heard that his wife had gone to the Prophet, he came with his two sons from another wife. She said, "By Allah! I have done no wrong to him but he is impotent and is as useless to me as this," holding and showing the fringe of her garment, 'Abdur-Rahman said, "By Allah, O Allah's Apostle! She has told a lie! I am very strong and can satisfy her but she is disobedient and wants to go back to Rifa'a." Allah's Apostle said, to her, "If that is your intention, then know that it is unlawful for you to remarry Rifa'a unless Abdur-Rahman has had sexual intercourse with you." Then the Prophet saw two boys with 'Abdur-Rahman and asked (him), "Are these your sons?" On that 'AbdurRahman said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "You claim what you claim (i.e.. that he is impotent)? But by Allah, these boys resemble him as a crow resembles a crow,"
Book 004, Number 2127:
Muhammad b. Qais said (to the people): Should I not narrate to you (a hadith of the Holy Prophet) on my authority and on the authority of my mother? We thought that he meant the mother who had given him birth. He (Muhammad b. Qais) then reported that it was 'A'isha who had narrated this: Should I not narrate to you about myself and about the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him)? We said: Yes. She said: When it was my turn for Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) to spend the night with me, he turned his side, put on his mantle and took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down till he thought that I had gone to sleep. He took hold of his mantle slowly and put on the shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist wrapper, and then went out following his steps till he reached Baqi'. He stood there and he stood for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He hastened his steps and I also hastened my steps. He ran and I too ran. He came (to the house) and I also came (to the house). I, however, preceded him and I entered (the house), and as I lay down in the bed, he (the Holy Prophet) entered the (house), and said: Why is it, O 'A'isha, that you are out of breath? I said: There is nothing. He said: Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware would inform me. I said: Messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story). He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain,
14) Women have to obay men
Men are in charge (maintainers) of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High, Exalted, Great.
15) Wives must be available for men
Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will; but do some good act for your souls beforehand; and fear Allah. And know that ye are to meet Him (in the Hereafter), and give (these) good tidings to those who believe.
16) Women are to be submissive.
[66.5] Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, faithful, obedient, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows and virgins.
17) Women can’t lead very well.
Volume 9, Book 88, Number 219:
Narrated Abu Bakra:
During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler."
Anyway…I could ramble on there, but that’s a few of the reasons kuffer, like myself, look at verses and hadith and think…..whats going on here?
Everyone , including many muslim women, says that islam is equality and just towards women. There are of course thousands of letters books and Documetries from Islamic women who complain about their position.
I would like to point out here that I’m DEFINATLY NOT trying to just Attack Islam here. I accept all the verses that the Ambrosia above quoted as indeed being worthy and fair. My issue is that there is a lot of verses here that are being used to stifle womens rights.
What do you think?
Many thanks if you have read all this…. Right , I’m off for a drink!