Men and Women in Islam: Both Equal and Complementary

Equality of Men and Woman in Islam, and their complementary nature to one another

In one sense, equality between men and women is possible and reasonable because they are both human, with similar souls, brains, hearts, lungs, limbs, etc. In another sense, equality between men and women is impossible and an absurdity due to their natural differences in physical, mental, emotional and psychological qualities, inclinations and abilities. Between these two we must tread to illuminate how they are equal, and how they are complimentary.

If total equality between all members of the same gender is impossible due to natural differences in strengths and other qualities, regardless of whether the gender is masculine or feminine, then it is definitely impossible between the two genders. Allah, the Exalted and Almighty, says in the Glorious Qur’an:

(And of everything We have created pairs, that you may remember (the Grace of Allah).)

[51:49]

Even atoms exhibit this dual quality with inter-related and complementary roles played by the positive and negative particles and ions, yet each is an integral part of the whole system of the so called binary basis of all life. Most living beings have male and female sexes for reproduction. As the science of biology teaches us, all mammals have similar traits in their molecular and glandular structures that determine differences in gender. These basic physical, psychological and sexual traits have their definite effects on other spheres of life.

It is natural for a man to need and find fulfillment with a woman and for a woman with a man, since they are created one from the other and for one another. They both are inseparably bound to each other. Neither can they find fulfillment except when in the company of the other as legal and honorable mate and spouse, as Allah (The Almighty) says in His Majestic Book, the Qur’an, mentioned in the two verses cited in the preface:

(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 honorable of you in the Sight of Allah is the believer who has Taqwa (piety and righteousness). Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.)

[49:13]

In many instances Islam treats women as equals to men. Some of them are given below. In the coming sections we will expand on these themes in various contexts throughout the book.

1) Equality in Basic Humanity

Both the male and the female are equal in terms of their humanity. Islam does not categorize women, for instance, as the source of evil in the world for some & original sin that caused Adam (Peace be Upon Him) to be dismissed from Paradise, or to be the cause of evil in the world by setting loose a Pandora’s box of vices, as some other religious doctrines and fables teach.

Allah, the Exalted and Almighty, states in the Glorious Qur’an:

(O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women…)

[4:1]

Allah also states in the Glorious Qur’an:

(Does man think that he will be left neglected without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord (Allah) on him? Was he not a mixed male and female discharge of semen pouring forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned (him) in due proportion, and made him into two sexes, male and female. Is He not able to raise to life those who are dead?)

[75:36-40]

Allah illustrated in the verses that He created both sexes from one single source. There is no difference between the two sexes in terms of qualifications in humanity, and each complements the other as the two genders of the species. Islam has abolished and abrogated all the previous unjust laws that demoted women as inferior in quality and nature. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said:

Verily, women are the twin halves of men.

[Abu Dawood #234 , Tirmidhi #113 & others]

2) Equality in Religious Obligations

Equal religious duties and rituals are required from both women and men. Testimony of Faith (Shahaadah), Prayer (Salah), Obligatory Charity (Zakah), Fasting (Saum), and Pilgrimage (Hajj) are equally required of both genders. In some cases the requirements are a bit easier on women to alleviate their special cases of hardship. For instance, in consideration of her health and physical condition, menstruating women or a woman in the state of postnatal bleeding and recuperation are absolved from the duty of prayers and fasting. She is required to make up the days of fasting missed due to menses and postnatal bleeding, but not her prayers, as that would be too burdensome.

3) Equality in Rewards and Punishments

Both males and females have similar rewards for obedience and penalties for disobedience in this world and the Hereafter. As stated by Allah in the Glorious Qur’an:

(Whoever does righteous acts, whether male or female, while he is a believer, verily, to him We will give a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.)

[16:97]

And the Lord Most Majestic says:

(Surely for men who submit to Allah and for women who submit to Allah, for believing men and for believing women, for devout men and devout women, for truthful men and truthful women, for steadfast men and steadfast women, for humble men and humble women, for charitable men and charitable women, for fasting men and fasting women, for men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, for men who remember Allah much and for women who remember Allah much, for all of them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a mighty reward.)

[33:35]

4) Equality in Preservation of Honor and Nobility

Women have the same moral obligations and are entitled to the same general rights as men in guarding chastity, integrity and personal honor and respect, etc. No double standards are allowed. For instance, those who falsely accuse a chaste woman of adultery or fornication are publicly punished, just as if a man is slandered. Allah, the Exalted, states in the Glorious Qur’an:

(And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and reject their testimony forever. Indeed, they are those who are disobedient to Allah.)

[24:4]

5) Equality in Financial Dealings and Property Ownership

Women are equally qualified and allowed to engage in financial dealings and property ownership. According to Islamic law women can own, buy, sell and undertake any financial transaction without the need for guardianship, and without any restrictions or limitations – a situation unheard of in many societies until modern times.

6) Best of you is the Best to his Womenfolk

Islam indicates that a man who honors, respects and deals with women justly and integrally, possesses a healthy and righteous personality, whereas a man who mistreats them is an unrighteous and unrespectable man. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said:

The most complete believer is the best in character, and the best of you is the best to his womenfolk.

[Tirmidhi #1162 and verified]

7) Equality in Education and Cultivation

Islam entitles women to the same rights as men in terms of education and cultivation. The Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said, as reported and authenticated by the scholars of prophetic traditions:

Seeking knowledge is compulsory for each and every Muslim (i.e. both male and female).

[Ibn Majah #224 al-Baihaqi and verified]

Muslim scholars collectively agreed that the word Muslim when used in revealed scriptures includes both male and female, as we indicated in parenthesis. Thus, Islam entitles women to the same right of education in order to understand the religious and social obligations, and obligated them both to raise their children in the best manner, in accordance with the right Islamic guidance. Of course women have certain obligations in bringing up their children that are commensurate to their abilities and men have complementary obligations to finance, protect and maintain according to their added responsibilities in the family unit.

The Prophet (Peace be Upon Him) said:

Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach puberty, he and I will come on the Day of Resurrection like this.” The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then joined his fingers to illustrate this.

[Muslim #2631]

About female slave girls, the Prophet of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said:

Whoever has a female child with him (under his guardianship from slavery), and trains her in the best behavior, and teaches her well, and then frees and marries her, will have a double reward.

[Bukhari #97 & Muslim #154 ]

8) Equality in Social Responsiblities

Men and women have similar obligations and responsibilities to reform and correct the society to the best of their capability. Men and women shoulder the responsibility of enjoining good and forbidding evil equally, as Allah, the Exalted, states in the Qur’an:

(The believers, men and women, are helpers, supporters, friends and protectors of one another, they enjoin all that is good, and forbid all that is evil, they offer their prayers perfectly, and give Zakah (Obligatory Charity) and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bestow Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.)

[9:71]

9) Right to Receive Fair Share of Wealth

Men and women have set and determined rights to receive their fair share of wealth, just as they are obliged to give Zakah (Obligatory Charity) according to the set calculation. All Muslim scholars unanimously agree upon this. A woman has her set share of inheritance, as will be discussed in more detail later, which was a right unthinkable in many societies.

Allah (The Almighty) says:

(There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those closely related, and there is a share for women from what is left by parents and those closely related, whether the wealth be small or large: a legal mandatory share.)

[4:7]

10) A woman, just like a man, can give someone the right of seeking refuge and security among the Muslims

Allah, the Exalted, says:

(And if one of the polytheists seeks refuge, give him until he hears the words of Allah, then take him to his place of security.)

 

The Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said:

And the protection of Muslims is one, and the least among them can give protection; and whoever usurps the right of a Muslim then the curse of Allah and His angels and all the people is upon him, and no repentance or ransom will be accepted from him

[Bukhari #3008]

This is also proven by the famous story of Um Hani’ (Mother of Hani’) when she gave protection to a polytheist who sought refuge with her on the day of the conquest of Makkah after her relative threatened to kill that person (for some past enmity) so the Messenger of Allah (Peace be Upon Him) said,

We protect and give asylum to whomever you give asylum O Um Hani’.

[Bukhari #350]

18 Things Sisters can do For the Local Islamic Center

The Prophet (PBUH) said: If the wife of any one of you asks permission (to go to the masjid) do not forbid her.” (Bukhari)

Given this, here are some practical things sisters can do for their local Islamic Center.

1. Do it for the sake of Allah

What other reason to do this than for the sake of Allah? None. Make your intention clear, then assess what you can do. Insha Allah (if Allah wills) you’ll be rewarded for your sincerity and dedication.

2. Fight for your right

Do you know that you even have a right to go to the mosque? Request the masjid board to provide the reference from the Quran or hadith for denying women to go to the masjid. Provide the board with textual references from the Quran and Sunnah indicating otherwise. This may be presented by way of a letter or a presentation at a board meeting. Identify brothers on the board and other community leaders who believe women should not be denied access. These brothers will be important allies in your struggle. Don’t make your struggle be seen as a sister vs. brother problem. It is important to stress to the board that the participation of women in the masjid is a God-given right. If space is seen as a problem, provide suggestions as to how the masjid can become more sister-friendly. Remind these brothers that while their wives go shopping, or some cases work, by denying them the right to go to the mosque, they are being denied the change to gain Allah’s blessings through praying and learning in the mosque. Denying women their God-given right to attend the masjid is a form of zulm (oppression).

Continue reading 18 Things Sisters can do For the Local Islamic Center

The Muslim Woman and Herself

She keeps company with righteous people and joins religious gatherings

In order to attain this high status, the Muslim woman chooses righteous, Allah-fearing friends, who will be true friends and offer sincere advice, and will not betray her in word or deed. Good friends have a great influence in keeping a Muslim woman on the Straight Path, and helping her to develop good habits and refined characteristics. A good friend – in most cases – mirrors one’s behaviour and attitudes:

  • “Do not ask about a man: ask about his friends, / for every friend follows his friends.”47
  • Mixing with decent people is an indication of one’s good lineage and noble aims in life:
  • “By mixing with noble people you become one of them,/ so you should never regard anyone else as a friend.”48
  • So it is as essential to choose good friends as it is to avoid doing evil:
  • “If you mix with people, make friends with the best of them,/ do not make friends with the worst of them lest you become like them.”49
The Muslim woman is keen to attend gatherings where there is discussion of Islam and the greatness of its teachings regarding the individual, family and society, and where those present think of the power of Almighty Allah (SWT) and His bountiful blessings to His creation, and encourage one another to obey His commandments, heed His prohibitions and seek refuge with Him. In such gatherings, hearts are softened, souls are purified, and a person’s whole being is filled with the joy of faith.
  • Abdullah ibn Rawahah (RAA), whenever he met one of the Companions of the Prophet (PBUH), used to say, “Come, let us believe in our Lord for a while.” When the Prophet (PBUH) heard about this, he said, “May Allah have mercy on Ibn Rawahah, for he loves the gatherings that the angels feel proud to attend.”50
  • The rightly-guided khalifah `Umar al-Faruq (RAA) used to make the effort to take a regular break from his many duties and the burden of his position as ruler. He would take the hand of one or two men and say, “Come on, let us go and increase our faith,” then they would remember Allah (SWT).51 Even `Umar (RAA), who was so righteous and performed so many acts of worship, felt the need to purify his soul from time to time. He would remove himself for a while from the cares and worries of life, to refresh his soul and cleanse his heart.
  • Mu`adh ibn Jabal (RAA) would often say to his companions, when they were walking, “Let us sit down and believe for a while.”52
The Muslim is responsible for strengthening his soul and purifying his heart. He must always push himself to attain a higher level, and guard against slipping down: ( By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it; and by its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right – truly he succeeds that purifies it, and he fails that corrupts it!) (Qur’an 91:7-10)
 
So the Muslim woman is required to choose with care the best friends and attend the best gatherings, so that she will be in an environment which will increase her faith and taqwa:(And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face; and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.) (Qur’an 18: 28)
47. See ‘Adiyy ibn Zayd al-‘Ibadi by the author, 172.
48. Anonymous.
49. See ‘Adiyy ibn Zayd al-‘Ibadi by the author, 172.
50. Reported by Ahmad (3/265) with a hasan isnad.
51. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/329.
52. Ibid.
[Taken from “The Ideal Muslimah – The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim Woman as Defined in the Quran and the Sunnah” by Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi]

My Hijab

What do you see when you look at me
Do you see someone limited, or someone free?

All some people can do is just look and stare
Simply because they can’t see my hair.

Others think I am controlled and uneducated
They think that I am limited and un-liberated.

                       

They are so thankful that they are not me
Because they would like to remain ‘free.’

Well free isn’t exactly the word I would’ve used
Describing women who are cheated on and abused.

They think that I do not have opinions or voice
They think that being hooded isn’t my choice.

They think that the hood makes me look caged
That my husband or dad are totally outraged.

All they can do is look at me in fear
And in my eye there is a tear.

 

Not because I have been stared at or made fun of
But because people are ignoring the One up Above.

On the Day of Judgment they will be the fools
Because they were too ashamed to play by their own rules.

Maybe the guys won’t think I am a cutie
But at least I am filled with more inner beauty.

See I have declined from being a guy’s toy
Because I won’t let myself be controlled by a boy.

Real men are able to appreciate my mind
And aren’t busy looking at my behind.

 

Islam is my way

 

Hooded girls are the ones really helping the Muslim cause
The role that we play definitely deserves applause.

I will be recognized because I am smart and bright
And because some people are inspired by my sight.

The smart ones are attracted by my tranquility
In the back of their mind they wish they were me.

We have the strength to do what we think is right
Even if it means putting up a life-long fight.

You see we are not controlled by a miniskirt and tight shirt
We are given only respect, and never treated like dirt.

So you see, we are the ones that are free and liberated
We are not the ones that are sexually terrorized and violated.

We are the ones that are free and pure
We’re free of STD’s that have no cure.

So when people ask you how you feel about the hood
Just sum it up by saying ‘Baby, its all good!’
 

-unknown

I am a Muslim Woman

I am a Muslim woman
Feel free to ask me why
When I walk
I walk with dignity
When I speak
I do not lie
 
I am a Muslim woman
Not all of me you’ll see
But what you should appreciate
Is that the choice I make is free
 
I’m not plagued with depression
I’m neither cheated nor abused
I don’t envy other women
And I’m certainly not confused
 
Note, I speak perfect English
Et un petit peu de Francais aussie
I’m majoring in Linguistics
So you need not speak slowly
 
I run my own small business
Every cent I earn is mine
I drive my Chevy to school & work
And no, that’s not a crime!
 
You often stare as I walk by
You don’t understand my veil
But peace and power I have found
As I am equal to any male!
 
I am a Muslim woman
So please don’t pity me
For God has guided me to truth
And now I’m finally free!

author unknown

Women’s Liberation Through Islam

Many people have the concept that women are liberated in the West and that women’s liberation was born some time in the 20th century. In actuality, women’s liberation did not begin with a movement, or by a group of women, but it began by revelation from God to a man in the seventh century by the name of Mohammed (peace be upon him), who is known as the last Prophet of Islam. Islam raised the status of women, liberating them and freeing them from the many injustices that have been wrongly imposed upon them throughout time. The status of the Muslim woman is a very noble one, as her role greatly effects society as a whole. The Muslim woman is the initial teacher in the building of a society. The great importance of Muslim women’s roles – whether as a mother, grandmother, aunt, wife, sister, daughter, and the rights that are due to her and the obligation due from her – have been explained in the Qur’an and Traditions of the Prophet (Sunnah).

Among her God given rights are:

  • Human rights
  • Civil rights
  • Social rights
  • Political rights
  • Economic rights
  • The high rank of a mother
  • The rights and honor of a wife
  • And much more…

 

Read more in detail on page entitled Women and Islam