Report: Women in Islam
Women in Islam
Question: Why are women abused and oppressed in Muslim countries?
Answer: This is a common question regarding Islam. The answer is that violence against women is not permitted. Those who are ignorant about Islamic topics, use one (1) ayat (verse) from 6236 in the Noble Qur’an, seek to slander Islam and encourage others to harbor ill feelings toward Muslims, in general. Muslim women (Muslimah) are held in a much higher level of respect an honor, than women in other locations throughout the globe. Women were given rights 1400+ years ago, long before western countries gave women the same rights. More abuse and oppression is common in “1st world, non-Islamic’ societies than in Islamic nations.
Consider: The Domestic abuse Statistics Globally!
(The use of the United States in this report is due, primarily to the assumption that this is the highest level of a civilized nation, or 1st world country.)
According to the NVAWS (National Violence Against Women Survey) shows that approximately 1.5 million women, including handicapped and elderly woman & children are physically assaulted, abused, and even raped annually, in The United states alone. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports the number to be as much as five (5) million.
Comparatively, A Press Statement dated1 February 2010, from Islamabad, Pakistan shows that 8548 occurrences of violence against women were documented. In 2009.The majority of these cases reported occurred in North Pakistan, in Punjab and Baluchistan, where the literacy rate is exceptionally low. Further; The National Society for Human Rights and Saudi Arabian specialists report that in 2011 there were a mere 257 cases of domestic violence reportedly.
Similar countries report similar numbers. Abuse in countries such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, etc. are not 100% domestic violence from the women’s’ husband. Often the abuse stems from tradition, honor and culture and a woman is abused by her own family members (parents, siblings, etc.) This is “traditional” and horrid but it is not an Islamic occurrence at all.
Compare the reported annual numbers of domestic violence:
United States… 5,000,000
From this small example, alone, it appears that the Protestant (Christian) country, the “leading power of the world” has an deplorable higher number of domestic violence incidents than any Islamic majority nation has. So, ask yourself, which country oppresses women more?
Consider: Islam provided rights 1,400 years ago that the U.S. only provided for less than a century!
The 14th and the 19th woman suffrage amendments to the US constitution have a long history of giving women the right to vote, withdrawing that right and returning the right throughout the late 1800’s. In fact until the ratification of the 14th amendment, women were not even considered to be U.S. citizens and had no rights as such. In 1920, the 19th amendment gave the right to vote in all federal elections, a right that had not been given to women before. Later the 14th amendment gave the right to hold public office and be elected into political positions, a right that was virtually unthinkable previously. In 1971, women were also given the right to equal protection. (Note: less than a century has passed since women were given the right to protection- a right that should have been inherently theirs and was given to women by Allah (swt) more than 1,400 years ago!
Today, in the United States, women continue to be trafficked, raped, discriminated against and violated in a number of ways. Women have been long deceived into imagining that their “equality” is irrevocable. Western women and men cringe at the headlines of atrocities committed against women in 3rd world countries, far away from them, of a much less “empowered” society, so it doesn’t really exist in their minds. Not really…
The very fact of the matter is that Americans would like to believe they are far more superior to any country, especially Islamic nations. When in their own country violence against women is significantly more barbaric and occurs much more frequently than that of any Islamic nation, to date. Men often target women during moments of insanity and or rage. For example, in Colorado in 2006, The Washington Post reported that Duane Morrison, age of 53, walked into Platte Canyon High School with two guns and methodically selected 6 girls, favoring those with blonde hair, and took the girls hostage. He then proceeded to sexually assault the girls and as authorities closed in on the 2nd floor classroom, he shot a 16 year old girl, point blank in the back of the head, before shooting himself. This is a single case out of an estimated 5 million cases annually of violence against women! Sexual assault counts for a large part of the abuse women and girls face in the U.S. The psychological and emotional violence leaves scars that can never heal. Girls who have endured rape or molestation grow up to be women with a lot of hurt and pain to deal with. Until as recently as 2007-2008, the 110th congresses have continued to discuss the ratification of the ERA. (The Equal Rights Amendment) So after nearly a half century, the topic of equal rights for women, continues to be up for discussion in Washington D.C.
Are women truly “free and equal” in the world? Well to answer this question, we need to look at the statistics surrounding the topic.
Consider: Female Equality is an injustice in the west!
Women are indeed, not treated equally with men! It’s an illusion to American and western women. Sure, women of the west can vote, sell and own property, hold jobs, marry if they so choose, but this equality fails when it comes to other “equalities”. Physical and sexual abuse of The U.S. (as mentioned previously) 5 million U.S. women annually are assaulted either physically and or sexually? Do men have an equal staggering number? The answer is simple- no! So, therefore we can conclude that women are not equal to men in assault cases!
In major sporting events (e.g. football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR, golf, to name the top sports of the U.S.) Men are the higher paid athletes. (as much as $1 million US dollars annually or even higher.) Women very rarely are paid such an absurd amount of money, and even more rarely are permitted into the male dominated sporting fields. Therefore, women are not equal to men!
Consider: Bible V Qur’an on violence and rights of women:
Western countries, assumed by the general population to be more advanced and “free” are not ruled by religion. In fact, religion plays a very, very small role in the western societies. For example, The U.S. was ‘founded’ on Protestant (Christian) beliefs; however this seems to have been completely forgotten by the more modern government and the people ,as more and more ‘rights’ were added or changed through the centuries.
The Holy Bible
Women are mentioned throughout today’s version of the Holy bible. Let’s turn to the source itself to discover the rights granted to women, there.
(Genesis 3:16-19) “Your husband shall rule over you.” (This was one of the “punishments” from God to women for the ‘original sin’)
(Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24). “Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die”(Again, the ‘original sin’ was blamed on women.
(Ephesians 5:22) “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” (clearly here we read that women are to be submissive to men (e.g. do whatever he says, she is a ‘servant’ to her husband, etc.)
(Lev 19:20) “And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that [is] a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged (meaning to be tormented); they shall not be put to death, because she was not free”.(Here Prophet Moses (PBUH) is telling us that if a man initiates sexual intercourse with a women, regardless of her status (i.e. married, single, servant, etc.) The woman is to be blamed and therefore tormented for the act, whether she was willing or not. (i.e. rape, incest, etc.)
(Genesis 2:4-3:24 ) Prophet Adam (PBUH) says to God…“The woman you put here with me –she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.”; Then God tells Eve…”I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” This was to be her punishment for causing the first sin in human history. And to Adam He said: “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree …. Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life…” Here God is blaming the woman, Eve for the sin and punishing Adam (PBUH) also.
Many, many more verses related to the topic of women’s rights and roles are throughout the Holy Bible, but the authority under which it was written and the author of these verses are questionable so will be exclude from this report, for the sake of accuracy and time.
What does the Holy Qur’an have to say regarding the rights of women? quite differently from the Holy Bible and the Holy Pentateuch (Old Testament of the Holy Bible)
Written over 1400 years ago, direct from God we find the following words:
(Qur’an 4:1) “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” Here, Allah (swt) is confirming the creation of two (2) humans out of one (1) soul; Allah (swt) also describes the woman as “the mate”. This is to say as a partner, not as a servant but as a companion.
(Qur’an 3: 195) “…So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another …” Through this statement, Allah (swt) is telling us that men and women are equal in chastisement and both have responsibilities toward their behavior with Allah (swt).
(Qur’an16:97, also 4:124)”Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily
to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the their actions.” Allah (swt) also makes it clear that both men and women will earn rewards for their good deeds (their righteousness) equally.
(Qur’an 2:36) “But Satan caused them to slip out of it and removed them from that [condition] in which they had been. And We said, “Go down, [all of you], as enemies to one another, and you will have upon the earth a place of settlement and provision for a time.” Contrary to the old testament view of the “original sin”, The woman was not to blame. Prophet Adam (PBUH) along with Shaytan were also blamed. Eve (Hewwah
(Quran 7:19:23) “O Adam dwell with your wife in the Garden and enjoy as you wish but approach not this tree or you run into harm and transgression. Then Satan whispered to them in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them and he said: ‘Your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you become angels or such beings as live forever.’ And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: ‘Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?’ They said: ‘Our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost’ ” Hawwah (Eve) was not to be blamed for the original sin because Satan tempted Eve and Adam, together and together they both made a conscious choice (free-will) to commit the sin that was forbidden to them by Allah (swt). Therefore, the ‘original sin’ theory does not exist in Islam as it oes in the biblical old testament view. In fact, Adam (PBUH) was blamed more than Eve (Hawwah)
(Qur’an 20:121) “And Adam and his wife ate of it, and their private parts became apparent to them, and they began to fasten over themselves from the leaves of Paradise. And Adam disobeyed his Lord and erred.”
There is no mention that Hawwah (Eve) ‘erred” other than the aforementioned condition in which she was tempted along with Adam (PBUH)
.Returning to the topic of oppression, according to the Noble Qur’an and supporting hadiths (sunnah of prophet Muhammad (PBUH) men are provided more responsibilities than women. From one (1) instance from the Qur’an, uneducated or misleading people use this commandment out of context in order to slander Islam and make it appear that men are to abuse their wives as an order from Allah (swt). Let us go straight to the source of this misconception and understand the true meaning.
(An-Nisa’: 34-35) “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them to guard. As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all). If you fear a breach between them twain, appoint (two) arbiters, one from his family and the other from hers. If they wish for peace, Allah will cause their reconciliation; for Allah has full knowledge and is acquainted with all things.”
“Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more strength than the other” Women, in general, are “emotional” beings, men being “physical”. Allah (swt) commands men to protect and provide for the women as this is a responsibility of man being stronger physically than women. (Note: during this time, physical labor such as farming and carpentry were the primary jobs available.) “…support them from their means” Money earned is to be used to support the wife (i.e. provide a home, food and clothing, etc. from the money they earn.) This does not imply that a woman cannot work; on the contrary, a woman can work and is given rights to buy, sell and or trade property. However, Allah (swt) has also commanded that the men provide for women, even if the woman is working. Her money is hers to spend as she wishes with it, she is not required to be responsible for household expenses, etc. But it is the responsibility of the man to provide for the woman, within his means.
“Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient” Here Allah (swt) is not telling us that the women are to be a slave or servant to men, but the “righteous” women, the women who are obedient and devoted to Allah (swt) and are a faithful Muslimah, will want to be obedient to her husband because of the righteous deeds she earns from Allah (swt) by doing so. She is to obey him in anything he says except if the husband asks her to do something forbidden by Allah (swt). Being obedient to her husband is only a step lower than being obedient to Allah (swt).
“and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them to guard”
When her husband is away, perhaps working, the woman is to guard what is the husbands possessions, including her own body and the home, the children, etc. This prevents immorality such as zina (adultery) by never being alone with a non-muharem (a forbidden male).
“As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first)…” For those women who their husbands suspect are involved in affairs, adultery, or any bad conduct that would not be giving the man his rights or “not guarding what is his” Admonish in this situation mean to warn her or to talk to her about the situation or behavior.
Allah (swt) further says “First” indicating that this is the first step of a process to encourage her obedience and responsibilities. Talking to her can result in making her aware of her bad conduct, perhaps she does not know what it is that she has done, and talking to her allows the man to explain in more detail of what he expects and what her opinion of that expectation is. It allows room for a compromise.
“(next), refuse to share their beds..” The second part of the process is to refuse to sleep with her, (i.e, leave her alone at night in bed, this also includes refusing sexual relations with her.) And the purpose of this is to show that the husband has made his
“(and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance)” Clearly we see that if communication (talking with the woman) fails, then the next action is to refuse to share their beds, if that does not suffice then and only then, after the first two options leading to obedience fails, can the husband “beat them lightly” With emphasis on “lightly”. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) stated in his authentic sunnahs in Arabic “dharban ghayra mubarrih” which translates to mean “a light tap that leaves no mark” The Prophet (PBUH) also stated that the face is to be avoided and “Do not beat the female servants of Allah”. With all of these statements made by both our beloved Holy Prophet (PBUH) and Almighty Allah (swt) we can understand that women are not to be abused and that rules are provided on exactly how the husband should manage his wife and home as well as control his own emotions. (i.e. the husband must control himself in anger and not brutally beat the wife, a light tap and not on the face is as far as he can take the “beating” of his wife. If he goes beyond what is permitted, he is in danger of being held accountable for the grave sin.) Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) goes a step further by declaring that Allah (swt) has said “and they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them.” (2: 228). This means that Allah (swt) has given certain rights to women, similar to the rights of men. In reality, women have more rights but fewer responsibilities than men, in Islam. Which is exactly opposite of what people generally think of when discussing Islamic women. Women in the west, in non-Islamic countries have much less rights than women in Islam, for example, growing up a girl is taught that she must cook and clean to keep her husband happy. But in Islam, the husband has the responsibility of providing a servant to clean the home or cook the meals. A Muslim woman only has the responsibility of guiding and teaching the children in the ways of Islam and obeying her husband, as long as it is nothing which is forbidden in Islam. And she is responsible to perform Salat (prayer) in her home whereas the man must perform Salat in a group in the mosque.
Nowhere does Islam promote the idea of domestic abuse and oppression, in any situation. This is merely a fabrication created by those who seek to defame Islam and our beloved Prophet (PBUH). There are many countries, Islamic nations and other nations) which have laws that may oppress women. This is not; however, from the direction of Islam, rather it is under the misdirection of that countries own leaders and their laws which are not sharia law (Islamic law). Many countries have founded laws based on culture and traditions of that country and have not recognized gender equality. Islam gives different responsibilities and roles to both men and women, each to their own nature and what they can endure; physical roles to men (eg. working and supporting the household) and emotional roles to women (raising, teaching and guiding the children in a moral Islamic lifestyle.)
No other religion gives females more rights and respect, than Islam. 1400+ years ago, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) put an end to the killing of newborn females [as directly instructed by Allah (swt)] In the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) it was considered to be proper and acceptable for Arabs to bury their newborn daughters alive. And females, in general, had no place in society, females were only for the pleasure of men and to raise the sons they bore as a result. In fact, the birth of a daughter was considered a shame and a curse on the family. Islam gives no dominance to men over women, but gives both genders complete equality, as we find in the Noble Qur’an (4:1 translation to modern English translation1) 4:1 O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.
Consider: The Head Covering is protection from Oppression!
The Hijab (veil) is a protection for women designed by Allah (swt). Acting as a “shield” against unwanted male attention, the hijab is the perfect design created by Allah (swt) as the covering does not simply require covering the hair, but also protects and hides the by shape & size from unjustified and unwanted gazes.
Is covering ones’ own body completely oppression or a compulsory act by the males? Lets’ take a look at exactly what Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and Allah (swt) tells us about this topic in the holy Qur’an and the hadiths.
33:59 “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful”
Here, Allah (swt) is telling Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to tell the females that they should cover their bodies with an “outer garment”. This is usually similar to a long ‘cloak’ or a long dress, similar to the traditional catholic nuns’ habit; though in Islam it is commonly referred to as an “abaya” or ‘jilbab’ (both are similar to long flowing, loose dresses, having only a few minor differences.) The veil is the hijab. The hijab is to cover the hair. Similar, again, to catholic nuns traditional clothing. Are Catholic nuns forced or oppressed? Of course not! It’s a choice they made of their own free will. Likewise a Muslim woman has the right to choose to wear the abaya and hijab, or not. But the most righteous woman will wear it, of her own free will, to show she is an obedient servant of Allah (swt) and not of her husband or father. The woman is simply expressing her faithfulness to Allah (swt).
“That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused.” Allah (swt) continues to tell The Prophet (PBUH) that it is better that a woman should be known and not abused. “Be known” here means that with the appropriate covering, others can see her but not know her body, just know of her. And not be abused, describes what happens to a woman who does not cover her body appropriately. You see it every day occurring in Western countries, a beautiful woman is walking down the sidewalk and men start to whistle and catcall at her, giving her unwanted and unnecessary attention. Had the same woman been walking on the same sidewalk but dressed appropriately to cover the shape of her body, the beauty of her hair, etc. men would have nothing to whistle and catcall too, because unlike other women on the same sidewalk, her body is not exposed, she does not show anything “sexually appealing” and nothing is made available for men to judge.
Consider: Men are included in the “veil”!
“Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do. And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof; that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” [Noble Quran 24:30-31]
“Say to the believing man that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…”
Allah (swt) tells The Prophet (PBUH) to tell the believing MEN Allah (swt) specifically addresses the men’s responsibility before he mentions anything about the women, to “lower their gaze…” (to not look a woman in the eyes direct, as this can send mixed signals, i.e. flirting or unwanted interest and attention to the woman.) “and guard their modesty…” modesty in this statement from Allah (swt) means, for example, private areas of the body. (i.e. wear loose fitting clothing so as not to expose your body.) This is a protection for the woman and not necessarily for the men. “that will make for greater purity for them; and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do…” not looking at the women and wearing loose clothing protects men from any impure thoughts or impure actions, therefore it is a protection for the women and the men, simultaneously. “and Allah is well acquainted with all that they do…” It is made clear here that Allah (swt) knows all that men do, including impure thinking.
“And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty…” Allah continues to describe the clothing responsibilities of the women, after he describes the mans’ clothing responsibilities. It is quite clear that both are required to wear similar clothing for protection. Women in specific are granted additional protection. “…and that they should not display their beauty and ornaments except what must ordinarily appear thereof…” Women are not to expose or “display” their beauty and ornaments (hair, ears, neck, etc.) because this causes obvious impure thoughts for a man as well as vain thoughts in a woman, and can elevate to a sexual assault, quickly. By covering and hiding her beauty, a woman is protected by Allah (swt). “…that they should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands…” And, finally, Allah (swt) tells The Prophet (PBUH) that women’s’ veils (hijab) should not only hide their hair but also their bosom. Again, this is for the protection of the woman. Men are generally “physically” attracted to women, to the shape of their bodies. By covering the bosom, the woman eliminates this attraction. Many women in Islamic and even non-Islamic countries use a long piece of fabric to drape over their shoulders and hang over their chest to hide the shape and size of the bosom.
The prophet (PBUH) said: “Allah(swt), Most High, is Hayie (Bashful), Sittir (Shielder). He loves Haya’ (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering).” We understand from this sunnahs of The Prophet that Allah loves for his people to be shy and to protect themselves. (i.e. not exposing their bodies, not looking into each other’s eyes, etc.)
Quran 7:26″O children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc) and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that is better.” Allah (swt) tells us in the Noble Qur’an that we should cover ourselves with our clothing but that the clothing or covering with morality is even better. (i.e. clothes can cover the shape and size of the body, but morality and devotion to Allah (swt) covers removes and covers any sinful or impure thoughts and actions.
The question was posed “Why are women in Islamic nations abused and oppressed?” The simple answer is they are not. As we have discovered from the aforementioned factual information, it is not an Islamic act to beat or abuse women. Women are help in very high regards by the authority of Allah (swt). Men are commanded to cover themselves as well. It is not for women only. The illusion created about Muslim women being “oppressed” is simply an injustice and is itself a dishonor to devout Muslim women everywhere designed by poorly educated non-Muslims, who seek only to defame Islam.