This post was most recently updated on May 16th, 2023
Without a doubt, there is no discrepancy in Islam between men and women regarding their relationship with Allah, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct.
Allah says: “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” (2: 228)
In addressing the believers, the holy Quran often uses the expression “believing men and women” to accentuate the equality of males and females regarding their duties, rights, virtues, and merits. Islam is such a religion that had first given women a place of dignity and honor because, before Islam’s advent, there was huge discrimination towards women. Islam abolished inhumanity, inequality, and discrimination towards women and gave a complete code of conduct for both males and females. Before the arrival of Islam, the pagan Arabs used to bury their female children alive, make women dance naked in the vicinity of Ka’ba during their annual fairs, and treat women just like slaves or chattels. They used women only for sexual contentment who possess no rights, dignity, honor, or position.
Islam treats men and women as being equally created from one soul.
Allah says: “O mankind, be mindful of your duty to your Lord, who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from the two created and spread many men and women.” (4: 2)
In order to understand women’s rights, honor, dignity, and status in Islam, it is sufficient to judge women’s position before Islam’s advent.
Table of Contents
1. “Fear Allah in respect of women.
“Fear Allah in respect of women.” At that time, they were like slaves, and most often, their positions were worse than animals. The Prophet (peace be upon him) proposed stopping torture, cruelty, or inhumanity to women, and he showed greatness towards them.
“The best of you are them who behave best to their wives.” And: “A Muslim must not hate his wife, and if he is displeased with one bad quality in her, let him be pleased with a good one.
”He said: “Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of Allah and made their bodies lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means” In Islam, spiritual equality have guaranteed for both men and women.
2. Rights and Status of Women in Islam
In pagan society, a woman’s status would not get a share either from her parents or spouse as an inheritance. But Islam ensures the share of women in the property of parents and husbands. As we understand it at present, the regular shape of marriage was totally absent. Such types of marriage may be treated as fornication, prostitution, adultery, or polyandry.
3. Rights, Dignity, Honour and Status of Women in Islam
Islam does not allow the domination of males over females; rather, it upholds the rights, dignity, honor, and status of women by ensuring gender and equality of rights for both males and females in every area of human life. She has the right to perform any profession or business and has the authority to dispose of her property like men. She is entitled to inheritance in different capacities, like as a mother, as a wife, as a sister, and as a daughter. Women are free to select their husbands and are allowed to do their dower and maintenance.
There was no specific system for implicate, and males could always get preferences. In Islam, six classes of persons never deprive of an inheritance. Among these six classes of persons, three are male (father, husband, and son), and the rest are female (mother, wife, and daughter). Three situations may arise in the right of inheritance of a woman as a mother. She may be entitled to 1/6 (if the deceased person has a child or son’s child how low so ever or two or more brothers or sisters) or 1/3 (if the deceased person does not have any child or son’s child or not more than one brother and sister) or 1/3 of residue (if the deceased person has wife or husband and father) (4:11). As wife two situations may arise and she may be entitled either 1/4 (if the deceased
person has a child or son’s child how low so ever) or 1/8 (if the deceased person does not have any child or son’s child) of the property of the deceased. (4:12). As a daughter, if only one daughter and no son, her share are 1/2, and if two or more daughters and no son, their share are 2/3, and if there is a son, daughter will be residue, and each daughter will get half of the son. (4:11). Besides this, parents could distribute property equally between a son and a daughter. Islam is the only religion that does not deprive women of their right to inheritance but ensures the right of inheritance of women.
In the case of marriage, Islam has given equal importance to both bride, groom, and bride. For a valid marriage, any party may offer to the other party, and the other party must accept it. A mutual right of inheritance is established through valid marriage, and the wife becomes entitled to her dower and maintenance. But marriage does not give power to the husband over the wife’s person beyond the law’s limit and right upon her goods and property. In marriage in Islam, women are free to choose their life partner. Nobody can force her to choose her mate or to marry even her father, mother, brother, sister, or any paternal or maternal guardian. Marriage of a major woman previously married without her consent is unanimously void, and of a major virgin girl without her consent is unlawful.
Islam has given importance for the payment of dower and also imposed duty on the husband to pay dower to the wife. The holy Quran states, “Give women (wives) their dower with no strings attached. If they themselves (wives) give some of it back to you (waive it), then consume it (dower) with good cheers.” (4:4). The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Pay dower (mahr) to your wife even it is a ring made of iron”.
According to the provision of Islam, husband must have to pay dower to the wife either in cash or any other form and husband has no way to deny his liability except paying dower. It may be prompt or deferred.
It is like a debt or duty for the husband to pay dower and a right of the wife to receive it. In case of dower Islam has showed respect and given full authority to the wife as she can demand her dower at any time without any explanation and can waive full or any part of her dower as she like and no one can interfere in this matter. Islam has given rights to the wife and imposed duty on the husband if the amount of dower was not settled during the time of marriage or later on, the wife is entitled to proper dower, though the marriage was completed on the stipulation that the wife cannot demand any dower.
Under Muslim law, maintenance is due to the wife from the husband as a recompense for the matrimonial restraint and is one of the necessary and inherent conditions of the marriage contract. Husband responsibility is to provide proper maintenance and it is such a duty that must be discharged cheerfully without any censure, hurt or patronization.
Regarding right of divorce men enjoyed vast powers who could easily get rid of his wife by leveling a flimsy charge against him The rectification of Prophet Mohammad marked a new departure in the history of Eastern legislation. He reserved unrestricted power of divorce by the husband but also given to the wife the right of obtaining the partition on rational grounds. Though divorce is allowed in Islam with some conditions it
- Delegated divorce (Talaque-e-tafweez): Though the husband possesses primarily the power of divorce wife also may exercise this right to dissolve her marriage if the husband delegates the power of dissolution of marriage to the wife. This delegation of power can be during the marriage or at any time after marriage.
- Redemption (Khul’a): It means a mutual agreement between husband and wife where both of them agree to break off their marriage in lieu of a recompense paid by the wife to her husband out of her property.
- Mutual release (Mubar’at): When both the parties of a marriage feel aversion, they have liberty to release each other without any claim upon the other. In this form of divorce both of the parties to the marriage has right to offer and the other party has right to accept and when it is accepted marriage will be dissolved and it is an irrevocable divorce.
.6 Right to Choose Profession
In Islam there is no difference between men and women in regard to work and working is a duty for both. In Islam women have freedom to choose their occupation but in choosing their profession they must keep in mind that they have some limitations due to their physical structure. Though in Islam women have liberty to select their profession but it impose some restrictions at the same time because a married woman cannot choose any profession by which her husband will be deprived to enjoy his conjugal rights or children will be deprived from maternal love, care and affection and proper education and training.
.7 Right to Proprietorship
In regard to ownership of property Islam has given equal respect to the women like men. She may gain property through lawful means and become owner and she has also right to dispose of that property in any legal way as she wishes. Nobody whether father or husband or mother or even her children have no right to interfere her regarding her property. It is not her responsibility to bear expense of the family even her maintenance or maintenance of the children.
.8 Right to Seek Knowledge
In Islam acquiring knowledge is obligatory for both men and women. In this regard an unmarried woman has full freedom to acquire knowledge and nobody can obstruct her from acquiring knowledge. A married woman also has right of acquiring knowledge but she must observe the right of her husband and children.
.9 Right to Involve in Politics
Islam ensured political independence of men and women. There is opportunity for a woman to involve in politics. She can participate in political convention, street demonstrations, congregations and Friday prayers. She has right to self defense and defends her property and even she can participate in war to defend the sovereignty of her own country. But for all these she has to follow the directions of Islam.
.10 Right to Choose Residence
A woman has freedom to choose residence for herself. In Islam, as it is the liability of husband to provide proper maintenance to his wife, a married woman must stay to her husband’s place of residence. Considering the ability and benefit of her husband a married woman can select her residence in such place as dignity of the family is properly maintained. According to the direction of Islam she cannot claim her residence in such place which will be some hardship for her husband.
.11 Economic Rights of Women
The women who are highly talented and have the opportunity to acquire higher degree can render services for the betterment of the society, particularly in the teaching
profession. But here too, a strict Islamic code of conduct has to be observed in the classroom. As for medical profession, women doctors are badly needed in the field of gynecology and obstetrics. Women can involve in welfare institutions of the society. With her Allah-given touch of loving and affection she can handle juvenile delinquents, drop-outs from schools frustrated youths. Even she has right to work in a factory if it is run by women.
Woman is not forbidden to go out of her home for necessity. In the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), women went out to the market or their farms.
To know the rights of women in Islam and to understand the actual position of women
in Islam and to eliminate the prevailing misconceptions regarding women’s rights in Islam, proper Islamic knowledge and awareness of women is essential and also necessary to change the dominating mentality of the men.