1. Men and women are equal
The Westerners think that Islam is very chauvinistic and oppressive towards women. In Islam of today as practiced by most traditional sectarian Muslims, this is very true. However, in true Islam as revealed in the Quran, nothing could be farther from the truth. Many of the Muslim countries who claim to follow Islam are treating women as second class citizens, and some of these women accepted this situation thinking that is what Islam is advocating while God, in the Quran has made a complete spiritual equality between men and women:
[3:195] Their Lord responded to them: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female – you are equal to one another…
[4:124] As for those who lead a righteous life, male or female, while believing, they enter Paradise; without the slightest injustice.
[16:97] Anyone who works righteousness, male or female, while believing, we will surely grant them a happy life in this world, and we will surely pay them their full recompense (on the Day of Judgment) for their righteous works.
[40:40] Whoever commits a sin is requited for just that, and whoever works righteousness – male or female – while believing, these will enter Paradise wherein they receive provisions without any limits.
2. Menstruation does not prevent women from practicing any religious duties
Since both men and women are spiritually equal, the women are to practice the religious rites same as the men in all their circumstances Not to miss their chances to be redeemed. But many Islamic scholars have innovated religious laws prohibiting the menstruating women from observing the Contact prayers, fasting, Hajj and even touching the Quran. The verse they base this false idea about women not being able to pray or fast during menstruation is mentioned below. They claim it says that women are unclean during menstruation, and therefore cannot be allowed to pray:
[2:222] They ask you (yasoolunaka) about menstruation: say, “It is harmful; you shall avoid sexual intercourse with the women during menstruation; do not approach them until they are rid of it. Once they are rid of it, you may have intercourse with them in the manner designed by God. God loves the repenters, and He loves those who are clean.”
The study of the verse shows that God is teaching us about personal hygiene, and no law is being dealt with the religious practices of women in the verse. It is also interesting to note that menstruation is a feminine issue but it is the men who ask about menstruation, and the revelation is directed towards the men. Now, what could possibly concern a man regarding a feminine issue, except for his own interest in sexual matters? God answers the men by initially letting them know that having sexual intercourse with a menstruating woman is harmful, and they should not approach them until they get rid of it. The root word, “tahhara” means “get rid of” is also used in (3:55) when God tells Jesus: “I am terminating your life, raising you to Me, and ridding you of the disbelievers.”
However, if this verse were referring to women’s religious practices during menstruation, God would have directed the verse to the women. As it turns out, neither in this verse, nor in any other verse in the Quran God forbids menstruating women from practicing their religious duties; it only refers to personal hygiene, and the statement of “your women are the bearers of your seed” in the following verse proves this fact. A man and his wife are allowed to have intercourse in the manner designed by God, which is vaginal intercourse as the only way a woman can be “the bearer” of a man’s seed is through the vagina to the uterus:
[2:223] Your women are the bearers of your seed. Thus, you may enjoy this privilege however you like, so long as you maintain righteousness. You shall observe God, and know that you will meet Him. Give good news to the believers.
It is also mention-worthy that the excretion during menstruation does not nullify ablution (wudu in Arabic) as someone may claim it does but what nullifies ablution is associated with the excretion of the digestive and urinary systems, Not associated with the vaginal discharge related to the female genital system, a completely separate organ system from the digestive and urinary systems (4:43, 5:6).
[4:43] O you who believe, do not observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) while intoxicated, so that you know what you are saying, nor after having sexual intercourse without bathing, unless you are on the road, traveling. If you are ill or traveling, or you have had the bathroom or contacted the women (sexually), and you cannot find water, you shall observe dry ablution(Tayammum) by touching clean dry soil, then wiping your faces and hands therewith. God is Pardoner, Forgiver.
Hence, nowhere in the Quran does it say that women cannot fast, pray, or worship in any other way during their menstrual cycles. However, we should know that any rule telling us NOT to worship God under this or the other circumstances must be from Satan, not from God.
3. What your right hand possess
One of the most abused expressions in the Quran is “Ma Malakat Aymanukum”, which translates to “What your right hand possess”. Many traditional Muslim scholars have abused this statement and made lawful the owners to have sex with their female slaves (servants). They have also introduced short term (temporary) marriage called “Muta marriage”; even have made rape of women permissible during wartime in Islam. All these innovations and fabrications contradict the laws of God in the Quran. It is noteworthy that many critics of Quran used this abused expression to report it one of the controversial issues in the Quran to be unethical.
In fact, the expression, what your right hand possess “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” covers five different categories of people including both men and women: 1. what you already have “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” (4:3, 33:50 & 33:52), 2. what is rightfully theirs “Ma Malakat Aymanuhum” (23:6, 70:30), 3. Slaves “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” (4:25, 24:33), 4. male servants “Ma Malakat Aymanuhunna” (4:31, 24:58, 33:55) and 5. women who leave their disbelieving husbands during wartime “Ma Malakat Aymanukum” (4:24). The Quran teaches beyond doubt that these people are part of our families who should be treated with respect as they deserve rights as human beings. It is clear from the Quran that 2, out of 5 categories are allowed for sexual relationship only after being part of a marriage (as a spouse). Thus, under no circumstances does God allow in the Quran either a man or a woman to have sex unless the man and the woman become a husband and wife. The short-term marriage is forbidden by God’s law in the Quran and is prostitution. Even in case of war, all the captured women (and men), fall under the protected category and cannot be considered sex objects (60:10). They should be treated with respect and asked for marriage, and given their bridal due. The Quran also teaches that rape of women during wartime same as peacetime, is a crime while righteousness is defined by an established moral value that is best judged by the words of God in the Quran, and not by war or peace.
4. Dress code for women
Muslim women wear hijab, veil or head cover in the hopes of receiving reward from God being recognized as religious in the societies but most of them are not aware that they are committing an unforgiveable sin as the command of wearing it is not from God. It may come as a surprise to many people to be aware that covering the head is not an idea from the Quran. However, the verses as quoted below are the only verses in the Quran giving the dress code for women – to lengthen the garments and to cover the chest:
[24:30] Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity. This is purer for them. God is fully Cognizant of everything they do.
[24:31] And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes (not stare at the men), and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have not reached puberty…
[33:59] O Prophet, say to your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers to cover themselves of their garments. That is more appropriate that they can be recognized but are not harmed.
It is interesting to note that the majority of the so-called Muslim countries use the Arabic word “Hijab” for “Muslim” dress, and it has come to mean that women must cover everything except their eyes. This is exemplified in Afghanistan and more moderately in Iran and some other “Muslim” countries where the women cover all of their bodies except face and hands. But the word “Hijab” has nothing to do with Muslim dress as we see, “Hijab” in the Quran means a combination of physical and spiritual barriers. In some “Muslim” countries, a woman’s space is also decreed by using the word hijab. She is asked to stay home and not to leave the house. All these restrictions have come about because of the misunderstanding of the verse 33:53 where the Almighty says to speak to the prophet’s wives from behind a barrier (hijab):
[33:53]… If you have to ask his wives for something, ask them from behind a barrier (min waraa-i hijaabin). This is purer for your hearts and their hearts….
However, the Muslims of today have created unreasonable dress code for women based on tradition and customs in the name of God and Islam. There is no mention in the Quran that the head should be covered for men or women or the women are to stay home all the time. The objective of the dress code for the women is a recommendation from God to participate in the community activities to protect the righteous women from the harassment by the unrighteous men as there is no punishment indicated in the Quran here or in the Hereafter in the event of violation of the code.
Polygamy in Islam is an exception which is legal under certain strict conditions for the sake of orphans that the person is able to maintain fairness as well as to avoid financial hardship (4:3) while the Quran even discourages that exception (4:129). In fact, if any men marry a second time without meeting the conditions around the well-being of orphans stands in violation of the Quran. Thus, this exception, in no way degrades the status and honor of the women in Islam except the protection of orphans according to God’s will and wisdom:
[4:3] If you deem it best for the orphans, you may marry their mothers – you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
[4:129] You can never be equitable in dealing with more than one wife, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, do not be so biased as to leave one of them hanging (neither enjoying marriage, nor left to marry someone else). If you correct this situation and maintain righteousness, God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
6. Marriage and divorce
The concept of gender equality in Islam is stressed by the non-superiority of either sex over the other that has best reflected in the marriage and divorce. Both men and women have equal rights to contract a marriage as well as to dissolve it.
Marriage is a Divine and Sacred Institution and a very special gift from God to the human race. It provides the platform for two adults to be united based on their mutual agreement to be intimately close to one another, to enjoy, cherish and seek tranquility in each other. It allows a man and woman to share their joys and burdens freely, support each other throughout their lives and most of all, encourage each other to be united and steadfast along with their offspring in their pursuit of God’s grace and pleasure:
[7:189] He created you from one person (Adam). Subsequently, He gives every man a mate to find tranquility with her.
[25:54] He is the One who created from water a human being, then made him reproduce through marriage and mating. Your Lord is Omnipotent.
[30:21] Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.
[33:15] … making a pledge with GOD involves a great responsibility.
The precondition of marriage is merely the mutual agreement by both parties, and like man, a woman in Islam can divorce her husband at any time if she feels that she has been dealt with unjustly or even if she is just unhappy with her spouse since marriage is based upon mutual responsibilities toward each other. Islam has also ensured the woman’s right to remarry upon fulfillment their refrainment period:
[4:128] If a woman senses oppression or desertion from her husband, the couple shall try to reconcile their differences, for conciliation is best for them. Selfishness is a human trait, and if you do good and lead a righteous life, GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
[4:35] If a couple fears separation, you shall appoint an arbitrator from his family and an arbitrator from her family; if they decide to reconcile, GOD will help them get together. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.
[2:229] Divorce may be retracted twice. The divorced woman shall be allowed to live in the same home amicably, or leave it amicably. It is not lawful for the husband to take back anything he had given her. However, the couple may fear that they may transgress God’s law. If there is fear that they may transgress God’s law, they commit no error if the wife willingly gives back whatever she chooses. These are God’s laws; do not transgress them. Those who transgress God’s laws are the unjust.
[2:234] Those who die and leave wives, their widows shall wait four months and ten days(before they remarry). Once they fulfill their interim, you commit no error by letting them do whatever righteous matters they wish to do. God is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
7. Bridal payment (due)
Marriage is a sacred bond between men and women where bridal payment is obligatory for the grooms in all circumstances by mutually agreeing to any adjustments. The paying or the commitment of paying the amount as fixed at the time of marriage on behalf of husband is not just security for the women but an honor and comport for the woman to join with a new family to start a new life as wife. The Arabic word “fareedah” is translated to bridal payment, which is customarily known as dirmahr or simply mahrin many Muslim cultures and traditions:
[4:24] …All other categories are permitted for you in marriage, so long as you pay them their bridal due dowries (ujoorahunna fareedatan). You shall maintain your morality, by not committing adultery. Thus, whoever you like among them, you shall pay them the dowry bridal payment (fareedah) decreed for them. You commit no error by mutually agreeing to any adjustments to the dowry bridal payment (fareedah). God is Omniscient, Most Wise.
[4:25] Those among you who cannot afford to marry free believing women, may marry believing slave women. God knows best about your belief, and you are equal to one another, as far as belief is concerned. You shall obtain permission from their guardians before you marry them, and pay them their bridal due dowry(ujoorahunna) equitably….
[33:50] … Also, if a believing woman gave herself to the prophet – by forfeiting the dowry – the prophet may marry her without a dowry bridal payment(ujoorahunna), if he so wishes. However, her forfeiting of the dowry bridal payment(fardna) applies only to the prophet, and not to the other believers….
[60:10]… Once you establish that they are believers, you shall not return them to the disbelievers. They are not lawful to remain married to them, nor shall the disbelievers be allowed to marry them. Give back the dowries that (anfaqoo) the disbelievers have paid. You commit no error by marrying them, so long as you pay them their bridal due dowries (ujoorahunna).
Dowry is the money and assets given to the groom at the time of marriage on behalf of bride’s family as demanded compensation for his higher education and future earnings. In fact, the Arabic counterpart of dowry is jahaz and the custom of giving dowry (jahaz) is un-Islamic being totally in opposition to the spirit of Islam, although it actually seems to be on the increase among several South Asian Muslim cultures, notably in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
8. Handling rebellious wife with violent manner
This reminder is to shed some light on one of the many controversial issues about Quran and Islam. Wife beating and what is believed to be stated by God in Quran (4:34), is one of the most misunderstood issues. For years, scholars and Hadith& Shariaa makers have been brain-washing Muslims with their own illogical interpretation of (4:34) accepting one particular meaning of the multiple meaning Arabic root word, “daraba” and with the violent manner, believed to be decreed by God, the Muslim husband should use to handle his wife’s rebellion. They have been very successful!!!
In fact, it was a traditional mess and pollution that we grew up in its midst for long that might take time to be completely rid of all traces of falsehood introduced by the devil. However, here is the appropriate interpretation of the above verse to confirm that there is no such thing as believed to handle wife’s rebellion with violent manner in the Quran while marriage is a sacred bond with a provision of amicable and equitable separation when all attempts such as disregarding, arbitration, and reconciliation fail:
[4:34] Men are the care givers for women because of the certain qualities that they are exclusively given and because they are the ones who provide for living and spend from their money. Righteous women would always accept that and they would always guard such an arrangement even in their privacy, when alone, as dictated by God. If you fear rebellion from the women, you shall advise them wisely, then you may stay away from them in bed, then you may deliberately and entirely ignore them. If they follow your advice, you should not make life difficult for them. God is Most High, Supreme.
9. Adultery and its punishment
Sexual misconduct, accusation of someone with sexual misconduct or spreading rumors with such accusations are very serious matter in Islam and are not looked upon lightly by God. The punishment of the proven adultery for the couple who has committed adultery is 100 lashes (24:2) or they may be left alone if they repent and reform (4:16) and the punishment for the slaved women freed through marriage is half of the free women i.e., 50 lashes if they commit adultery (4:25). The punishment of those who accuse a married woman of adultery but fail to produce four witnesses is eighty lashes (24:4). Someone may marry a woman who has committed adultery proved by four witnesses to protect the society from such a crime (4:15):
[24:2] The adulteress and the adulterer you shall whip each of them a hundred lashes. Do not be swayed by pity from carrying out God’s law, if you truly believe in God and the Last Day. And let a group of believers witness their penalty.
[4:16] The couple who commits adultery shall be punished. If they repent and reform, you shall leave them alone. God is Redeemer, Most Merciful.
[4:25] …Once they are freed through marriage, if they commit adultery, their punishment shall be half of that for the free women…
[24:4] Those who accuse married women of adultery, then fail to produce four witnesses, you shall whip them eighty lashes, and do not accept any testimony from them; they are wicked.
[4:15] Those who commit adultery among your women, you must have four witnesses against them, from among you. If they do bear witness, then you shall keep such women in their homes until they die, or until God creates an exit for them.
10. Share of women in will or in the inheritance law
God has ordered us to write a will before our death but He does not dictate us any specific share for any heirs in a will that we can leave behind. As such, He has provided us full freedom to give any share of our inheritances to any heir based on current financial situation but He does teach us to be equitable if we obey Him and really care about all our nearest and dearest ones.
[2:180] It is decreed that when death approaches, you shall write a will for the benefit of the parents and relatives, equitably. This is a duty upon the righteous.
[4:9] Those who are concerned about their own children, in case they leave them behind, shall observe GOD and be equitable.
We do not know when, how and where we will die. As such, if anyone of us dies without leaving a will, God has declared a will for this person for the benefits of the deceased family members specifying definite share for each surviving member. The Quran has ensured the share of women as men and all relatives including orphans and needy in the will as well as in the inheritance laws. The women must get a definite share even it is a small inheritance:
[4:7] The men get a share of what the parents and the relatives leave behind. The women too shall get a share of what the parents and relatives leave behind. Whether it is a small or a large inheritance, (the women must get) a definite share.
[4:8] During distribution of the inheritances, if relatives, orphans, and needy persons are present, you shall give them there from, and treat them kindly.
God has specified clear cut entitlement and specific shares for each relative in a will as declared by Him in case we are not able to leave any will behind us. The son (male) gets twice of the daughter (female) which conforms to our family structure as the son (man) has the higher responsibility to support the family and the daughter (female) is taken care of by the husband (male). The shares for the other heirs as specified in the distribution of inheritance conform to the family structure as well.
11. Witness in Financial Transactions
Financial transactions are the ONLY situations where two women may substitute for one man as witness. This is to guard against the real possibility that one witness may marry the other witness, and thus cause her to be biased. Unreasonable laws have been made and continue to be made abusing this verse, giving women a lower status in society.
[2:282] O you who believe, when you transact a loan for any period, you shall write it down. An impartial scribe shall do the writing. No scribe shall refuse to perform this service, according to God’s teachings. He shall write, while the debtor dictates the terms. He shall observe God his Lord and never cheat. If the debtor is mentally incapable, or helpless, or cannot dictate, his guardian shall dictate equitably. Two men shall serve as witnesses; if not two men, then a man and two women whose testimony is acceptable to all. Thus, if one woman becomes biased, the other will remind her. It is the obligation of the witnesses to testify when called upon to do so…
12. Women are Men’s Private Property
In some so-called Muslim countries, women are referred to the “private part,” and that is why they have come to see themselves as men’s private property. The word “private part” goes hand in hand with the word, “hijab”. When scholars are asked what is the “private part” of the woman, the answer is the whole woman is a private part. In Arabic, the private part is “awraat” and this word has been used in the Quran in four places, two of which mean puberty found in 24:31 and 24:58 while other two instances mean vulnerable found in 33:13:
[24:31]… They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands, their fathers, the fathers of their husbands, their sons, the sons of their husbands, their brothers, the sons of their brothers, the sons of their sisters, other women, the male servants or employees whose sexual drive has been nullified, or the children who have not reached puberty (awraat)…
[24:58] O you who believe, permission must be requested by your servants and the children who have not attained puberty (awraat). This is to be done in three instances – before the Dawn Prayer, at noon when you change your clothes to rest, and after the Night Prayer…
[33:13] A group of them said, “O people of Yathrib, you cannot attain victory; go back.” Others made up excuses to the prophet: “Our homes are vulnerable (awraat),” when they were not vulnerable (awraat). They just wanted to flee.
13. Women cannot lead the congregation prayer of mixed group
In mixed groups, the women cannot lead the prayer, or they cannot make lines in front of the men or cannot make lines shoulder to shoulder with men in all congregation prayers. The congregation prayer is not a social function rather our obligation to fulfill it being fully devoted to God. Due to the physical design of the man and woman, both men and women (especially youth) may be distracted or get mischievous by sitting next to each other in the prayers, or the men may get distracted looking at the woman if she delivers the sermon (Friday sermon is a part of Salat) and so on. Now it can be thought that God has standardized this system, which has universal acceptance as men and women are endowed with unique qualities providing us with opportunities to perform the congregation prayers without being distracted due to any interference of devil especially for the men but for sure, such system is in practice not because of superiority of one gender over the other:
[29:45]… observe the Contact Prayers (Salat), for the Contact Prayers prohibit evil and vice. But the remembrance of God (through Salat) is the most important objective. God knows everything you do.
[23:1-2] Successful indeed are the believers; who are reverent during their Contact Prayers (Salat).
[4:32] You shall not covet the qualities bestowed upon each other by God; the men enjoy certain qualities, and the women enjoy certain qualities…
[4:34] Men are the care givers for women because of the certain qualities that they are exclusively given and because they are the ones who provide for living and spend from their money. …
[46:15] We enjoined the human being to honor his parents. His mother bore him arduously, gave birth to him arduously, and took intimate care of him for thirty months…
14. Women’s role in politics and leadership
Can a woman take the leadership role or Is it prohibited in Islam? The answer can be found looking in the book of God from the story of the Queen of Sheba. God mentioned her history in the Quran to let us know that a woman in a ruling position is not offensive as far as God is concerned. She represented a democratic ruler who consulted with her people before making important decisions. She visited Solomon, talked to him, made decisions for herself and her people, not hiding behind walls, or shying behind another man:
[27:32] She said, “O my advisers, counsel me in this matter. I am not deciding anything until you advise me.”
[27:33] They said, “We possess the power, we possess the fighting skills, and the ultimate command is in your hand. You decide what to do.”
[27:44]… She said, “My Lord, I have wronged my soul. I now submit with Solomon to God, Lord of the universe.”
Here we witness one of the first Muslim women in charge of a nation, ruling them as a queen of Sheba. Do we learn a lesson from the Quran? We should. The lesson is that God in the Quran never put restriction on a woman in a ruling position. After witnessing what God gave Solomon, she became a submitter (Muslim), while still the Queen of Sheba. However, when God tells us a story in the Quran, He does not do so just for entertaining us, but to learn a lesson from it that women can participate in politics and hold the high level position including a ruling position:
[12:3] We narrate to you the most accurate history through the revelation of this Quran. Before this, you were totally unaware.
15. Traditional Muslim men reflect a whole different religion in dealing with the women
Islam should never be blamed for this kind of false teachings and fabrications as they have nothing to do with the word of God in the Quran except the opposite teachings what are stated in the man-made doctrines:
a. “If a woman dies while her husband was pleased with her, she will enter Paradise.” (Um Salmah/At Tirmidhi) while God never said in the Quran that obeying her husband is a criterion to enter paradise except for doing Salat, Zakat, fasting, or Hajj to make it, even at the time of death of any person is confirmed where she/he is going to. It is nothing but a big lie to encourage the women to serve the men or to permit them to have a second or third wife etc.
b. “Had it been permissible that a person prostrates before another, I would have ordered that a wife prostrate before her husband.” (Abu Hurairah/AT Tirmidhi) which does not make any sense while God has told us that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses.
c. “If a man orders a woman to lift a mountain she should be ready to lift it.” (Musnad Ahmed) is a nonsense statement as God is telling us that He is treating the women equal to men.
d. “A woman should not fast except with her husband’s permission.” (Abu Hurairah/Bukhary, vol. 7 #120) has no basis as the order for fasting is clear in the Quran that goes to both men and women.
e. “Women are naturally, morally and religiously defective”. (Bukhary)is another nonsense statement while God has made men and women spiritually equal.
God has made men and women equal but the practices and laws in the “Islamic” countries have deviated from or are totally unrelated to the origins of Islam. Instead, many of these practices are based on cultural or traditional customs which have been injected into these societies. For example, in Saudi Arabia, women are not allowed to drive by law. This rule, in a country which is supposed to derive its law from Islamic legislation, is completely an invention of the Saudi monarchy. This horrific rule as well as a host of others are residues of old pre-Islamic tribal traditions where women were not entitled to the same rights as men. In some “Islamic” countries, many civil laws remain those that were imposed upon them during European colonization. Much of the civil law that legislates personal and family matters in Egypt is directly based on old French law. As a result, an Egyptian man can divorce his wife much more easily than the reverse for the woman for going through long and expensive court procedures before granting a divorce from her husband. Often times, laws in the Middle Eastern countries, which are legislated and enforced by men, only take bits and pieces of Islamic law and combine them with concocted rules based upon some cultural or foreign practices.
Since the status of women in Islam is one of equality and honor, those who deprive them from their rights given by God should not think they would go unpunished when they meet Him.Unfortunately, in the current day and age, there are many societies in which the majority of citizens are Muslims, there are no Islamic nations except formal declaration of Islamic Republic of— etc. in a few cases.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.