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 The Status of Women in Islam

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proudmuslimah



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PostSubject: The Status of Women in Islam   Fri Jan 18, 2008 8:27 pm

In today’s troubled times many look to the Islamic world and see nothing but terrorism, oppression, and chaos. It absolutely disturbs me that Islam has been manipulated and distorted by those seeking power and wealth, but what disturbs me even more is the true followers of Islam are silent. Where are the outcries against those hijacking our religion? Why are we allowing extremist to dictate what is Islamic and what is not? Those in the West are fed daily images of suicide bombings and extremist propaganda. This has created a cloud of fear and ignorance around Islam. As Muslims we must help to disperse this cloud, and bring the light of truth and knowledge.

The first misconception I would like to address is the status of women in Islam. The stereotype is that Islam oppresses women, or that women are inferior to men. This cannot be farther from the truth. I am not denying that in much of the Islamic world women are voiceless and powerless, but this stems from pre-Qur’anic, Non-Qur’anic theological assumptions and on patriarchal impulses that have embedded themselves into our religion, but are not born from it.

In true Islam, the Islam of the Qur’an, men and women are considered equals. They have different roles, but both are crucial for a successful functioning society.

There are many verses in the Qur’an about creation. It is not the Adam and Eve story that is known among many in the West. In the Qur’an, the creation of humanity is spoken of as a whole (“an-nas,” “al-insan,” “al-bashar”). Man and woman were created simultaneously from the same materials and in the same manner. Both man and woman were created to serve God’s purpose. Both are called upon equally to be righteous, and to be protectors of each other. Here are several verses that support this:

“Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: Ye are members, one of another.” [3:195]

“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.” [4:124]

“The Believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey God and His Apostle. On them will God pour His mercy: for God is exalted in power, wise. God hath promised to Believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to swell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity.” [9:71-72]


Beyond what I stated above, In Islam the woman as a mother is revered and honored. Among the greatest gifts God has blessed womankind with is motherhood. Motherhood gives women an extremely high rank and is incomparable.

A man came to the Prophet Mohammad (sal) asking: ‘O Messenger of Allah, who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet said, your mother. The man said then who is next: the Prophet said, your mother. The man asked again, then who is next: the Prophet said, your mother. The man asked further and only then did the Prophet say, your father. (Al Bukhari) Kindness to parents, especially to mothers, is a foundation stone in the structure of Islam.


And remember paradise lies at the feet of your mothers.

During the time of the Prophet women were leaders in society, and even in the mosques. They were business leaders, like Khadijah the first wife of the Prophet Mohammed (sal), teachers, and even warriors. There are many stories of women riding into battle to defend Islam alongside men. Let’s not forget Nusaybah bint Kaab, who is the one of the most celebrated of the many women warriors, since she helped save the Prophet’s life in the battle of Uhud.

It is Muslim women’s responsibility to know the Qur’an and know what rights that have been given to them by God. Muslim women must defend themselves against those that lack true knowledge and defend themselves using the words of God. No man can oppose the words of God.
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PostSubject: Re: The Status of Women in Islam   Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:00 pm

Alhamdolilah,

There can be nothing far less than the truth. That's something men can never have, motherhood, and women well, I don't see anything they lack less than men. It makes sense when prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that our greatest companion, that our best friend, our soul mate--is our mother. It's the one thing women have that men wont ever have. Women can rival men at almost everything, yet I do have to say there are a few things men are better at; physical strength, loosing temper (can be good at times, eg. battle), etc. I really don't see loosing temper as a benefit! I think that might as well be our downfall, especially with our wives (who happen to be much more tolerant)! :$ We all have our strengths and weaknesses, I can never disagree to that. I will reply to this more later. Just have to study for my finals proudmuslimah, forgive me! Take care!

Allah Hafiz

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PostSubject: Re: The Status of Women in Islam   Sat Jan 19, 2008 2:05 pm

Assalamulaikum

Firstly, welcome to the forum proudmuslimah. We’re truly happy to have you here Smile

In regards to women and Islam, I agree wholeheartedly that we have been portrayed as subjugated and dominated by men. In reality, however, women have been given equal status to men by Allah SWT.

"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 with Allah is that (believer) who has At-Taqwa. Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, Well-Acquainted." (Surat Al-Hujurat, Verse 13)

The most honorable of you is the believer who has taqwa. Not the man who was taqwa, nor the woman who has taqwa. The believer. It becomes evident after reading this verse that first and foremost it is love of Allah and good deeds, whether from a male or female, that make one noble in His sight.

The following passage was revealed when one of the Prophet (SAW) wives, Umm Salamah, said that the Qur’an was addressed only to men. It clearly addresses both men and women, stating the equal responsibilities and rewards for Muslims.

"Verily, the Muslims men and women, the believers men and women, the men and the women who are obedient, the men and the women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the men and the women who are humble, the men and the women who give Sadaqat, the men and the women who observe Saum, the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues. Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward." (Surat Al-Ahzab, Verse 35)

When it comes to legal matters, both sexes are judged in the same way. For example, take the punishment for stealing:

“And the male thief and the female thief, cut off their (right) hands as a recompense for that which they committed, a punishment by way of example from Allah. And Allah is All-Powerful, All-Wise.” (Surat Al-Ma’idah, Verse 38 )

The punishment for murder and injury:

“And We ordained therin for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun.” (Surat Al-Ma’idah, Verse 45)

The punishment for fornication:

“The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment.” (Surat An-Nur, Verse 2)

In regards to giving testimony, many people point out the following verse as evidence that Islam deprecates the word of women.

“O you who believe! When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him, so let him write. Let him who incurs the liability dictate, and he must fear Allah, his Lord, and diminish not anything of what he owes. But if the debtor is of poor understanding, or weak, or unable to dictate for himself, then let his guardian dictate in justice. And get two witnesses out of your own men, And if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her. And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called. You should not become weary to write it whether it be small or big, for its fixed term, that is more just with Allah; more solid as evidence, and more convenient to prevent doubts among yourselves, except when it is a present trade which you carry out on the spot among yourselves, then there is no sin on you if you do not write it down. But take witnesses whenever you make a commercial contract. Let neither scribe nor witness suffer any harm, but if you do, it would be wickedness in you. So be afraid of Allah; and Allah teaches you. And Allah is All-Knower of everything.”(Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 282)

The following excerpt from a paper by Jamal A. Badawi for the World Assembly of Muslim Youth explains the verse thoroughly.

“One reference [the verse above from Surat Al-Baqarah] in the Qur'an distinguishes between the witness of a male and a female. It is useful to quote this reference and explain it in its own context and in the context of other references to testimony in the Qur'an. A few comments on this text are essential in order to prevent common misinterpretations:

a) It cannot be used as an argument that there is a general rule in the Qur'an that the worth of a female's witness is only half the male's. This presumed "rule" is voided by the earlier reference (24:69) which explicitly equates the testimony of both genders in the issue at hand.

b) The context of this passage (ayah) relates to the testimony on financial transactions which are often complex and laden with business jargon. The passage does not make a blanket generalization which would otherwise contradict 24:69 cited earlier.

c) The reason for variations in the number of male and female witnesses required is given in the same passage. No reference was made to the inferiority or superiority of one gender's witness or the other's. The only reason given is to corroborate the female's witness and prevent unintended errors in the perception of the business deal. The Arabic term used in this passage (tadhilla) means literally "loses the way," "gets confused or errs." But are females the only gender that may err and need corroboration of their testimony. Definitely not, and this is why the general rule of testimony in Islamic law is to have two witnesses even if they are both males. This leaves us with only one reasonable interpretation that in an ideal Islamic society as envisioned by Islamic teachings the female members will give priority to their feminine functions as wives, mothers, and pioneers of charitable works. This emphasis, while making them more experienced in the inner function of the family and social life, may not give them enough exposure and experience to business transactions and terminology, as such a typical Muslim woman in a truly Islamic society will not normally be present when business dealings are negotiated and if may present may not fully understand the dealings. In such a case, corroboration by two women witnesses helps them remind one another and as such give an accurate account of what happened.

d) It is useful to remember that it is the duty of a fair judge, in a particular case, to evaluate the credibility, knowledge and experience of any witness and the specific circumstances of the case at hand.”

Additionally, the Qur'an specifically states that if a chaste woman is accused by her husband, her testimony can discredit his.

"And for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let the testimony of one of them be four testimonies, by Allah that he is one of those who speak the truth. And the fifth the invoking of the Curse of Allah on him if he be of those who tell a like. But she shall avert the punishment from her, if she bears witness four times by Allah, that he is telling a lie. And the fifth should be that the Wrath of Allah be upon her if he speaks the truth." (Surat An-Nur, Verses 6-9)

There are countless more verses that can be cited as proof that women are by no means subjugated, but in conclusion, it is obvious that not only are women not inferior in Islam, but are respected and equal to their male counterparts.

Also, if anyone is interested, the full paper by Jamal Badawi is here.

http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/essays_Gender_Equity.htm

It is rather long, but definitely worth the time.

May Allah guide us all.
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PostSubject: Re: The Status of Women in Islam   Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:45 pm

Salaam,

First off I'll say WOW! Today in our world (including the Muslim heritage) we find smarter women intimidating. We all know that when it came to handling monies, business in gold and silk, Khadijah's prosperous life showed just how intelligent she was. Mashallah, I'll admit that I will never be intimated of my wife even if she's better than me in half the things I may be able to do.

Yet I still will admit, that men and women do have some particular roles they have to consider. By 'natural order' - that is what we observe everyday,is the relationship between mother and child. A child is more reluctant to ask his/her father if he can go play outside. On the other hand that person would be much more comfortable conveying his inquiries to his mother. That's the beauty of motherhood.

What are men necessary for? I see a clear indication of men's greater physical strength as a key here. Men are the ones who heft and do the odd-jobs women would find themselves....well....at odds with. There's much more on this topic, but my throat is giving me trouble and I need some sleep. Inshallah I'll post more on this topic.

Allah Hafiz
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PostSubject: Re: The Status of Women in Islam   Sun Jan 27, 2008 4:27 pm

This is interesting. I always though the Western world was quite dignified in the way they portrayed women. When I looked at Islam I though they opressed women, but looking at this way I can see things are actually vice versa. I'm all the way for women, and I know for a fact in 1997 in the United States, about 700,000 women were raped. That means every one minute thirty-eight seconds, that's to say 1:38 minutes, a woman was raped .That's horrible, almost inconcivable.
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PostSubject: Re: The Status of Women in Islam   Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:32 pm

The Western world? Nooo brother...absolutely not!

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