The Role of Women in Islam5 min read

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The Role of Women in Islam

Empowers, advocates for dignity and rights, which are rooted in the holy books that guide the Islamic way of life.

Quranic Foundation

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ ٱتَّقُوا۟ رَبَّكُمُ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍۢ وَٰحِدَةٍۢ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًۭا كَثِيرًۭا وَنِسَآءًۭ ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى تَسَآءَلُونَ بِهِۦ وَٱلْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًۭا

O men, fear your Lord who created you from a single soul, and from it created its match, and spread many men and women from the two. Fear Allah in whose name you ask each other (for your rights), and fear (the violation of the rights of) the womb-relations. Surely, Allah is watchful over you. (4:1)

The Quran, the heavenly scripture of Islam, is the primary source of guidance. Numerous verses clearly establish the inner equality of men and women, emphasizing that both were created from a single soul. This principle forms the basis for recognizing the natural dignity and rights of women in Islam.

Educational Rights

أَمَّنْ هُوَ قَـٰنِتٌ ءَانَآءَ ٱلَّيْلِ سَاجِدًۭا وَقَآئِمًۭا يَحْذَرُ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ وَيَرْجُوا۟ رَحْمَةَ رَبِّهِۦ ۗ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِى ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ۗ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْأَلْبَـٰبِ

Can (such people be equal to) the one who worships during the hours of night, prostrating himself and standing, fearing the Hereafter and having hopes in his Lord’s mercy? Say, “Can those who know and those who do not know become equal?” It is only the people of understanding who are receptive of the advice. (39:9)

Islamic teachings emphasize the acquisition of knowledge for everyone, regardless of gender. The Prophet of Islam () declared acquiring knowledge a duty for every Muslim, transcending gender boundaries. The Quran further encourages learning, stating, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” This comprehensive perspective historically allowed women to excel as scholars and contributors in various fields.

Work and Economic Participation

وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا۟ مَا فَضَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بِهِۦ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍۢ ۚ لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌۭ مِّمَّا ٱكْتَسَبُوا۟ ۖ وَلِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِيبٌۭ مِّمَّا ٱكْتَسَبْنَ ۚ وَسْـَٔلُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ مِن فَضْلِهِۦٓ ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُلِّ شَىْءٍ عَلِيمًۭا

Do not covet something in which Allah has made some of you superior to others. For men there is a share of what they earned, and for women, a share of what they earned. Pray to Allah for His grace. Surely, Allah is All-Aware of everything. (4:32)

Islamic principles encourage women to participate in economic activities and promote the sense of financial independence. The Prophet of Islam’s own wife, Khadijah (رضي الله عنها), was a successful businesswoman. The Quran recognizes mutual cooperation between husband and wife and supports women’s participation in economic affairs.

Family Life

وَمِنْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦٓ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَٰجًۭا لِّتَسْكُنُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةًۭ وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٰلِكَ لَـَٔايَـٰتٍۢ لِّقَوْمٍۢ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And it is among His signs that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, so that you may find tranquility in them, and He has created love and kindness between you. Surely in this there are signs for a people who reflect. (30:21)

The family, which is considered the foundation of Islamic society, holds a central place in the teachings of the Quran. Emphasizing the importance of mutual respect and cooperation between husband and wife, Islam accords significance to women as mothers and nurturers. The Quran outlines principles of love, care, and shared responsibilities in family life.

Modesty and Respect

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَـٰتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَـٰرِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ ۖ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَآءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَٰنِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِىٓ إِخْوَٰنِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنِىٓ أَخَوَٰتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَآئِهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَـٰنُهُنَّ أَوِ ٱلتَّـٰبِعِينَ غَيْرِ أُو۟لِى ٱلْإِرْبَةِ مِنَ ٱلرِّجَالِ أَوِ ٱلطِّفْلِ ٱلَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُوا۟ عَلَىٰ عَوْرَٰتِ ٱلنِّسَآءِ ۖ وَلَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يُخْفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ ۚ وَتُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُفْلِحُونَ

And tell the believing women that they must lower their gazes and guard their private parts, and must not expose their adornment, except that which appears thereof, and must wrap their bosoms with their shawls, and must not expose their adornment, except to their husbands or their fathers or the fathers of their husbands, or to their sons or the sons of their husbands, or to their brothers or the sons of their brothers or the sons of their sisters, or to their women, or to those owned by their right hands, or male attendants having no (sexual) urge, or to the children who are not yet conscious of the shames of women. And let them not stamp their feet in a way that the adornment they conceal is known. And repent to Allah O believers, all of you, so that you may achieve success. (24:31)

Islamic teachings advocate modesty for both men and women. The concept of the hijab, often misunderstood, is a symbol of decency and operates as a personal choice. It signifies a woman’s right to be respected for her intelligence, character, and contributions rather than being judged solely on her appearance. The Quran encourages modesty in attire for both genders.

Legal Rights

۞ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِٱلْعَدْلِ وَٱلْإِحْسَـٰنِ وَإِيتَآئِ ذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلْفَحْشَآءِ وَٱلْمُنكَرِ وَٱلْبَغْىِ ۚ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ

Allah enjoins to do justice and to adopt good behavior and to give relatives (their due rights), and forbids shameful acts, evil deeds and oppressive attitude. He exhorts you, so that you may be mindful. (16:90)

Islamic Sharia law provides specific rights and protections for women. These rights include inheritance, the right to choose a spouse, and protection from coercion or abuse. The Quran condemns any kind of discrimination based on gender and emphasizes justice and equity in all aspects of life.

Educational Rights

أَمَّنْ هُوَ قَـٰنِتٌ ءَانَآءَ ٱلَّيْلِ سَاجِدًۭا وَقَآئِمًۭا يَحْذَرُ ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةَ وَيَرْجُوا۟ رَحْمَةَ رَبِّهِۦ ۗ قُلْ هَلْ يَسْتَوِى ٱلَّذِينَ يَعْلَمُونَ وَٱلَّذِينَ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ ۗ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُو۟لُوا۟ ٱلْأَلْبَـٰبِ

Can (such people be equal to) the one who worships during the hours of night, prostrating himself and standing, fearing the Hereafter and having hopes in his Lord’s mercy? Say, “Can those who know and those who do not know become equal?” It is only the people of understanding who are receptive of the advice. (39:9)

Islamic teachings emphasize the acquisition of knowledge for everyone, regardless of gender. The Prophet of Islam (ﷺ) declared acquiring knowledge as a duty for every Muslim, transcending gender boundaries. The Quran further encourages learning, stating, “Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” This is included.

Quranic Challenges and Misunderstandings

Challenges and misunderstandings often arise from cultural practices and incorrect interpretations. Educating oneself about Quranic principles can help eliminate these misunderstandings and promote a more accurate understanding of the role of women in Islam.

Hadith and Practical Guidance

The Quran provides practical guidance in complement to Hadith (the sayings and actions of the Prophet of Islam). Numerous Hadiths emphasize the dignity and respect of women, urging good conduct and behavior. The Noble Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The best of you are those who are best to their wives.” (Hadith, Sahih al-Bukhari). These teachings guide Muslims in embodying the principles of equality and respect in everyday life.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, a detailed examination of the Quran and Hadith reveals a nuanced understanding of the role of women in Islam. The sacred texts advocate for empowering women, education, economic participation, and the protection of women’s rights. By exploring these sources, we gain a comprehensive appreciation of Islamic teachings that promote justice, dignity, and respect for women in all aspects of life.

 

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Senior Saleha

I am an Islamic Scholar. I have expertise in Ahadith, Fiqh, Logics, and the Arabic language. I have a specialty in Islamic history and Geography. To get started with me, Book Now one-to-one Session, or let us know what do you like in the contact form.

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