There is no doubt that Islam treats women fairly and does not suppress them and in fact was revolutionary in changing the views and behaviors directed towards women.
But unfortunately in the Muslim societies that we live in, this is not the way that is actually practiced, and until we start doing so, it will not matter as to how much we try to explain to non-Muslims that Islam has given to women what no other religion or society has, until they actually see Muslims performing in the way ordained by the Qur`an and the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (s).
Why is it that one of the most ignored parts of Islam by Muslims is the rights of women?
My dear brothers and sisters, please recall or refresh the manner in which our most dearest Prophet Muhammad (s) spread Islam. It was not by calling names or insulting or shouting or forcing. His behavior toward women was very gentle and warm and it was very fair and just. He was very kind, gentle and his manners were soft with people. We are all humans no doubt but we have an example in our Prophet (s), the best human being.
The Great Prophet (s) was an example and we CAN strive to be like him, and we should try at all times to follow him, especially in how to relate to half of the Muslim ummah, the women.
â€œAre men and women equal in Islam?â€ this is the most prevalent question.
In order to answer this, first we have to ask,what is the definition of equal?
What does equal mean?
1. Having the same quantity, measure, or value as another.
2. Mathematics Being the same or identical to in value.
3. Having the same privileges, status, or rights: equal before the law.
4. Being the same for all members of a group: gave every player an equal chance to win.
5. Having the requisite qualities, such as strength or ability, for a task or situation: â€œElizabeth found herself quite equal to the sceneâ€ (Jane Austen).
6. Adequate in extent, amount, or degree.
7. Impartial; just; equitable.
8. Tranquil; equable.
9. Showing or having no variance in proportion, structure, or appearance.
—-adapted from Yahoo dictionary—
Now this is coming from an American, not an Islamic, dictionary.
Nothing is really equal. Apples and oranges are not equal. A doctor and a lawyer are not equal. Even 2 successful doctors who are the best of Muslims and are wealthy, who give to the poor, read their prayers, make dawah, and perform other service for Islam will be different in some way, for sure. Even 2 oranges are not equal. And 2 men can never be equal. There will be something that will differentiate one from the other. One may be short, the other tall. Even identical twins are not equal, there is something they will have no matter how minute that will differentiate one from the other. That is why no one has the same fingerprint in this world as another. Think about it, Allah has given every single person in all the world, time and eternity, a different fingerprint.
What I really think is the underlying issue is not of equality but of importance.
You are fighting on the issue of importance. Is man more important than women? I will come to this point later.
Therefore, no doubt men and women are different. They have different responsibilities, they have different needs, they have different strengths and different weaknesses. Man is no doubt responsible for the economics of his house It is his duty to work and provide for his family. A womanâ€™s duty is the protection of her home and the raising of the children. This is what they have to answer to Allah for. Women give birth, men do not, this is a difference.
They may have some of the same needs and desires, like sexual desire, or desire to eat, or drink, but these are natural things. They both sleep, they both breathe oxygen, they both use the bathroom, they both die, and they will both answer to Allah (swt).
But what they have to answer for is different. If the family doesnâ€™t have a place to live or food to eat, Allah will NOT ask the women of the family why did you not provide for your children or family. But Allah WILL ask the husbands, fathers, or sons, â€œWhy did you not provide for your family?â€ This is their Islamic duty and responsibility, and if they are lacking in it and they are lazy, do not work and neglect, they will be punished for that.
However, if a husband is lazy, and a woman goes and starts teaching, and providing for her children (in all manners of Islam), she will be rewarded, no doubt, because she went above and beyond her â€œwritten duty.â€
In the same way when women have children it is their duty and responsibility to take care of the children, THESE ARE ALL FORMS of IBADAAT. Some may not believe, but there are mothers who neglect their own children, who do not care for their upbringing, or teach them bad manners.
They will have to answer to Allah (swt) for that. And this is by no means a small thing.
Just look at how many mothers teach their daughters to be rude to their mothers-in-law, or to not give importance to the husbandâ€™s family. These mothers will be responsible for teaching their daughters these bad deeds and manners. I am sure you are all aware of how much chaos and destruction occurs in families with these kind of problems. These lead to mothers and sons not speaking, brothers fighting and not speaking for years.
And the other way also, so many mothers teach their sons to keep their wife underfoot. They make life for the wife a living hell. She canâ€™t meet her parents, she is made to cook, clean and in the most hard circumstances all day and night. There is cause and effect for everything. Do you not think the mothers will be held responsible for teaching their children to behave this way, mothers who cause rivalry in the house between the affections of the man to her as her son with that of his affections for his wife???
They also have some same responsibilities, needs and strengths and weaknesses. They both have the responsibility to honor their marriage. They both have responsibility to keep their children safe. All these things are duties and responsibilities under Islam.
They have same responsibility to follow the 5 pillars of Islam. To pray, to fast, to give zakat. Yes there are differences based upon needs. A woman will give based on how much she has, the same with poor and rich. But the result, the hasanat, will be same, Insha`Allah. One person who gives $5 may receive much more rewards for those $5 than someone else who gave $1,000. There is fairness in the end.
According to law the definition of EQUAL changes–it is not anymore the thing itself that is being defined but it is the result that is being defined.
Equal meaning do they have the same result or outcome in the END as in definition #7–impartial; just; equitable.
Do they have the same rights and are they treated with justice and fairness. And that is where we come to the part that if a woman gives charity she will be rewarded the same as when a man gives charity. That a womanâ€™s good deeds are the same as a manâ€™s good deeds. But process may be different. A man who goes out to spread dawah, a woman is practicing dawah at home when she is teaching her children ISLAM.
Now to the final point which is IMPORTANCE. Is man more important than woman?
No way. Each has their duties and responsibilities. But both have to work together for the marriage, then family, then community, and then all of society to be a happy, successful and thriving one.
How can a woman not be important? SHE GIVES BIRTH. And any one who has gone through childbirth and all that is associated with it, will know that it is the hardest thing. But Allah Almighty has given this esteemed (call it what you will) right, privilege, joy, for women to go through, not the men.
So in this aspect women are much stronger, because Allah chose them to be the source that bears the child in her womb and brings it out in the world by the will of Allah.
And it does not end there. Women are responsible for the future generation. WOMEN educate their children both sons and daughters. I as a mother educate my 2 sons. My husband is providing for us and rest of his family Alhamdulillah to keep our stomachs filled today.
But I am educating my sons for tomorrow. It is women who will lead their sons and daughters to be successful and good Muslims and good members of society. Does anyone think that this is a small thing.
No–it is the most important duty.