By Dr. Najam-us-Sahar Butt (FSP)
There is a lot of talk about women’s rights in Pakistan and other Muslim countries these
days. The western media is projecting a very gruesome and poor plight of the women in
Muslim countries with the intention of distorting the section image of Islam. Unfortunately,
this propaganda is proving quite effective and the entire west and a small section of females
in our society have misinterpreted Islam as being the cause of their troubles instead of the
Aryan culture that we have inherited.
Family, society and ultimately the whole mankind are treated by Islam on an ethical basis.
Differentiation in gender is neither a credit nor a drawback to anyone. Therefore, when we
talk about status of woman in Islam we should not think that Islam has no specific
guidelines, limitations, responsibilities and obligations for men. What makes one valuable
and respectable in the eyes of Allah, the Creator of mankind and the universe, is neither
one’s prosperity, position, intelligence, physical strength nor beauty, but only one Allahconsciousness
and awareness (taqwa).
Islam was revealed at a time when people denied the humanity of the woman; some were
skeptical about it; and still others admitted it, yet considered the woman a thing created for
the humble service of the man.
With the advent of Islam, circumstances improved for the woman. The woman’s dignity and
humanity were acknowledged for the first time. Islam confirmed woman’s capacity to carry
out Allah’s commands, her responsibilities and observation of the commands that lead to
Islam considers woman as a worthy human being, with an equal share in humanity to that
of the man. Both are two branches of a single tree and two children from the same father,
Adam, and mother, Eve. Their single origin, their general human traits, their responsibility
for the observation of religious duties with the consequent reward or punishment, and the
unity of their destiny all bear witness to their equality from the Islamic point of view.
The status of women in Islam is something unique that has no parallel in any other religion.
In the midst of the darkness that engulfed the world, the divine revelation echoed in the
wide desert of Arabia with a fresh, noble, and universal message to humanity:
“O Mankind, keep your duty to your Lord who created you from a single soul and
from it created its mate (of same kind) and from them twain has spread a
multitude of men and women”.(An-Nisa:1)
A scholar who pondered about this verse states:
“It is believed that there is no text, old or new, that deals with the humanity of the woman
from all aspects with such amazing brevity, eloquence, depth, and originality as this divine
Stressing this noble and natural conception, then the Quran states:
“He (God) it is who did create you from a single soul and there from did create his
mate, that he might dwell with her (in love)”.(Quran 7:189)
In the early days of Islam when a girl was born, she was buried alive. This custom is still
observed in Hinduism. However, the Holy Quran forbade this custom and considered it a
crime like any other murder. The Quran says: –
“And when the female (infant) buried alive – is questioned, for what crime she was
killed.”(Quran 81: 8-9)
Far from saving the girl’s life so that she may later suffer injustice and inequality, Islam
requires kind and just treatment to her. The sayings of Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW), in
this regard, are following:
“Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her,
and does not favor his son over her, God will enter him into Paradise”.
The Holy Quran provides us a clear-cut proof that woman is equal in all respects with man
before God in terms of her rights and responsibilities. The Holy Quran states:
“Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds”
In terms of religious obligations, such as offering daily prayers, fasting and pilgrimage,
woman is no different from man. In some cases indeed, woman has certain advantages over
man. For example women can and did go into the mosque during the days of the Holy
Prophet (SAW) and thereafter attend the Friday prayers is optional for them while it is
mandatory for men.
This is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings because of the fact that a woman may
be nursing her baby and thus may be unable to offer prayers in mosque. They also take into
account the physiological and psychological changes associated with her natural female
The right of females to seek knowledge is not different from that of males. When Islam
enjoins the seeking of knowledge upon Muslims, it makes no distinction between man and
woman. Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim”.
This declaration was very clear and was implemented by Muslims throughout history.
According to a hadith attributed to Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), he praised the women
of Medina because of their desire for religious knowledge.
“How splendid were the women of the Ansar; shame did not prevent them from
becoming learned in the faith.”
Under Islamic law, marriage was no longer viewed as a “status” but rather as a “contract”,
in which the woman’s consent was imperative. The dowry, previously regarded as a brideprice
paid to the father, became a nuptial gift retained by the wife as part of her personal
The Holy Quran clearly indicates that marriage is sharing between the two halves of the
society and that its objectives, besides perpetuating human life, are emotional well-being
and spiritual harmony. Its bases are love and mercy.
The rules for married life in Islam are clear and in harmony with upright human nature. In
consideration of the physiological and psychological make-up of man and woman, both have
equal rights and claims on each other, except for one responsibility, that of leadership. This
is a matter which is natural in any collective life and which is consistent with the nature of
man. The Holy Quran thus states:
“And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, and men are
a degree above them.”(Quran 2:228)
Such degree is Quiwama (maintenance and protection). This refers to that natural difference
between the genders which entitles the weaker gender to protection. It implies no
superiority or advantage before law. Yet, man’s role of leadership in relation to his family
does not mean the husband’s dictatorship over his wife. Islam emphasizes the importance
of taking counsel and mutual agreement in family decisions. The Holy Quran gives us an
“…If they (husband wife) desire to wean the child by mutual consent and (after)
consultation, there is no blame on them…”(Quran 2:233)
Islam also gives the option of divorce to the women and educated men to make a gracious
end to the relationship is it cannot be continued. The Holy Quran states about such cases:
“And when you have divorced women and they have fulfilled the term of their
prescribed period, either take them back on reasonable basis or set them free on
reasonable basis. But do not take them back to hurt them, and whoever does that,
then he wa wronged himself.”(Quran 2: 231)
Woman is entitled to freedom of expression equal to man. Her sound opinions are taken into
consideration and cannot be disregarded just because she belongs to the female sex. It is
mentioned in the Holy Quran and history that woman can not only expressed her opinion
freely but also argued and participated in serious discussions with the Holy Prophet (SAW)
himself as well as with other Muslim leaders.
Apart from recognition of woman as an independent human being acknowledged as equally
essential for the survival of humanity, Islam has given her a share in inheritance. Before
Islam, she was not only deprived of that share but was considered as inherited property to
Out of the transferable property, Islam has made her an heir, acknowledging the inherent
human qualities in woman. Whether she is a wife, mother, a sister or daughter, she receives
a certain share from the deceased kin’s property, a share which depends on her degree of
relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. This share is hers, and no one can
take it away or disinherit her.
Woman enjoys certain privileges which man do not have. She is exempted from all financial
liabilities. As a mother, she enjoys more recognition and higher honour in the eyes of God.
The Holy Prophet (SAW) acknowledged this honour when he declared that Paradise lies
under the feet of mothers.
She is entitled to three-fourths of the son’s love and kindness with one-fourth left for their
father. As a wife she is entitled to demand of her prospective husband a suitable dowry that
will be hers. She is entitled to complete provision and total maintenance by the husband.
She does not have to work or share with her husband the family expenses. She is free to
retain, after marriage, whatever she possessed before it, and the husband has no right
whatsoever to any of her belongings.
As a daughter or sister she is entitled to security and provision by the father and brother
respectively. That is her privilege. If she wishes to work or be self-supporting and share
family responsibilities, she is quite free to do so, provided her integrity and honour are
By now it is clear that the status of woman in Islam is unprecedentedly high and realistically
suitable to her nature. Her rights and duties are equal to those of man but not necessarily
or absolutely identical with them. If she is deprived of one thing in some aspect, she is fully
compensated for it with more things in many other aspects.
The fact that she belongs to the female sex has no bearing on her status or personality, and
it is no basis for justification of prejudice or injustice against her.
It is also worthwhile to state that the status which women reached today in the west was
not achieved due to the kindness of men or natural progress. It was rather achieved
through her long struggle and sacrifices and only when society needed her contribution and
work, more especially during the Two World Wars and due to the escalation of technological
In the case of Islam such compassionate and dignified status was decreed, neither because
it reflects the environment of the seventh century, nor under the threat or pressure of
women and their organisations, but rather its intrinsic truthfulness of Islam.
Women rights in Islam
Equal rights of men and women in Islam
.right to get education
.right to accept or reject marriage proposal
.right to get divers
.right to secrecy
.right to just treatment in case of polygamy
.right to entertain and dine out
.right to demand separate house
.right to deny doing all the chores of home
.right to dress
.right to Inheritance
.right to ownership
.right to dowry
.right to maintenance (Iddah, child upbringing)
.right to seek employment
.right to do business
Legal and political rights
.right to be equal before law
.right to witness
.right to vote
.right to work on legal and political positions
Women rights in Islam
Holy prophet (S.A.W) said,
Among you the most respectable is the one who respects women and the most disrespectable is the one who disrespect the women.
The above instruction of holy prophet (S.A.W) declared the ground of honor and respect for a person in Deen-e-Islam .Islam gave women an honorable life and ignite the light of rights in her life. Before Islam women were extremely deteriorated by the society. Arabs used to bury their daughters alive, wives were harshly beaten, step mother became legacy of eldest son and the sisters were given as a compensation for any sin of her family. Islam abolished all these dark practices and made the paradise under the feet of mother, guaranteed paradise to a father who brought up her daughters with love, assured paradise to the husband who care her wife and made sisters partners in the inheritance. Today Muslim woman is facing problems not because of lack of her rights in Islam but due to the male driven and illiterate society. Islam promised women respect, honor and safety before and more than any other religion, civilization and moderation. Islam gave women all rights to women before 15 centuries which any one can expect in todays highly modern world.
The sad pages of history only present crying voices and tears of women that break the heart the reader. All the big civilization of their time including Hubsha, Byzantine, Room, Greece, Egypt, China, Hindustan and Arabian Penusiuala ruined the women under the feet of brutality. Those who are claiming themselves the leaders and providers of women rights in todays world were in fact the real usurper of women rights from centuries. Women In these civilizations struggled so hard and fight for her rights centuries and centuries even than their male dominant leadership never gave them rights until they need them. After the two world wars when men strength became insufficient in forces and in the other fields of life then they brought women out of house and used her for their different purposes on the name of women rights. Lets have a look on the dates of rights givers as a prove US in 1920,British in 1918,France in 1944,Norway in 1907,Sweden in 1921,Belgium in 1919,Japan in 1945,Netherland in 1919 and so on. Whereas Islam gave all social, economical, political and legal rights to the women long before fifteen (15) centuries.
Everyone knows Islam claim that it is a complete code of life. Therefore Islam is not only complete code of life for men it is also complete code of life for women. It gives equal rights to men and women. It is very important for everyone that there is big difference of meaning between the words equal and same. As women and man cannot same physically so there rights can also not same due to their duties but they have equal rights on or the other way. This equal terminology can also be explain by taking a very simple example. There are two students in class one called Saeed scored 4 in economics,3 in political studies and 3 in social studies and another called Sadia scored 2 in economics, 4 in political studies and 4 in social studies. Saeed got (4+3+3)=10 and Sadia got (2+4+4)=10,that shows both Saeed and Sadia scored equal marks that is total 10 but they score different marks in different areas. It illustrates the real meanings of equal and its similar to the meaning of equal rights of men and women in Islam. If father has more rights and responsibilities economically than women then mother has more rights and responsibilities that balance their rights in all circumstances.
For further classifications of women rights in Islam, lets discuss them under different heads such as social, economic, legal and political.
Starting from the social, holy prophet (S A W) said
Education is mandatory for men and women.
The above hadith does not discriminating gender that means it is not only mandatory for men but also for women. Therefore no body restricts her from getting education. Its her right to get same education as her brother gets.
Holy prophet (S A W) said
You have to get education even its available in China.
Again there is no discrimination of gender in above hadith. If a boy can get education by traveling long distance then girl can also. She has right to go to school and mosque. If women had right to go to mosque for getting education and offer prayers during the period of holy prophet (S A W) and Caliphate than why not she has this right in todays modern world. Hazat Ayasha(R.A) was the teacher of 8000 companions and she was expert of history, medicine, hadith, literature and law.
Once a lady came to Holy prophet (S A W) and said that she was forcefully married
by her father and she is not happy with her husband, the Holy prophet (S A W)
dissolved her marriage then and there and emphasizes for marrying couples by their consent.
Above hadith validating the consent of females before marriage and made it compulsory for all Muslim parents. She can also demand to see the person before her marriage and she can also talk to him in the presence of her legal blood relative.
Once hazrat Aysha (R.A) showed desire to see the ongoing circus in the street. Holy prophet (S A W) happily replied to her that she can hide herself at the back of holy prophet (S.A.W) and then watch the circus. Aysha(R.A) did this and enjoyed the circus as long as she can stand there when became tired she went back to home. The Holy prophets (S A W) stand there more than an hour for her entertainment.
This hadith is highlighting very kind treatment of Holy prophet (S A W) to his wife. It also emphasizes the right of entertainment to women. Some people having wrong perception that Islam binds women in the walls of house and she has no right to come out for any purpose. In fact this is opposite of Islamic teachings. It is also her right that she should be treated with love by her husband.
You and your wives are dresses of each other.
Therefore it is women right that she should be entertained by her husband.
Once Holy prophet (S A W) said to one of his companion
Why not you get marry so that you can play with your wife and she can play with you.
It is making clear that its not matter of disrespect or against the sobriety of men or matter of hummer if he entertains his wife.
Dinning out or going out for outing with wife is also encouraged in Islam. It is also women right that she should be taken out by her husband for outing or for dinning.
Once an Iranian companion of Holy prophet (S A W) who was a very good cook cooked some food and came to Holy prophet (S A W) house for inviting him. Holy prophet (S A W) asked can Aysha (R.A) also come with me. Because of any reason companion replied no she cant. Holy prophet (S A W) also replied then I also cannot. Companion invited Holy prophet (S A W) three times and got same answer from the Holy prophet (S A W) .At last companion said yes she can also come with you then Holy prophet (S A W) accepted invitation and brought her for dinner along him. Therefore bringing wife to dine out is not only encouraged but also SUNNA of Holy prophet (S A W).
In addition, to demand separate house for living is also right of wife from his husband. If she does not like to live with the family of her husband then she has complete right to live with her husband in a separate place. Many cruel of our male driven society are considering this right against their ago. So often instead of fulfilling this true right of wife they give diverse or beat their wives for forcefully living with their family like a servant which is completely against Islamic teachings.
Furthermore, Islam is not binding women to cook food to do crockery or to wash clothes of her husband. If she refuses to do all this then its not making her guilty in the eyes of almighty ALLAH. But yes, she might be very guilty in the eyes of her husband who brings her for doing all these services for him. Many of Muslim women love to do all these services for their husbands, so their husbands must be thankful for their wives.
Subsequently, human being is used to make mistakes. So if there is any conflict arises between husband and wife then husband needs to resolve it first only by consulting her wife. In case matter could not solved by both of them then they need to bring any other family member for consultation. Secrecy is also immensely important for the matrimonial relation of couple. It is duty of husband to keep all secrets of bed relation with her wife.
Holy prophet (S A W) said,
The person who shared his wife bed relations with anybody, he is the worst man and he cannot get even the smell of paradise.
Similarly, when conflict between husband and wife became bone of contentions and seems unsolvable. In this case if wife no more wants to live with her husband then she has right to get diverse. In case husband is not willing to give diverse she can consult court for getting diverse.
Further, in case of polygamy Islam teaches full justice, equal and fair treatment to all waives. Practically this is very hard for a men to keep completely fair balance between all wives therefore it is highly recommended if he is not strong enough financially, physically and morally then he should not gets married even with a single woman. If anyone has more than on wife and he could not maintained just and fair treatment among all wives then he is severely treated by almighty Allah at the Day of Judgment.
Adding to it, growing age of fashion makes many minds ultra modern. Now husband wants to look his wife as a model and he forced her to wear dresses according to fashion. In this case Muslim women has right to wear all these dresses which are according to Islamic dress code while going out of house. If her husband forced her to do so she can refuse to her husband to wear any vulgar dress which is against the teachings of Islam.
Allah almighty knows all strength and weaknesses of his creatures. He made women physically very sensitive and weak than man. Therefore he shifted all the financial burden of women on mens shoulder. When she is daughter she is duty of her father. If father died she becomes duty of her brother. When she is wife she is duty of her husband and when she is mother she is duty of her son. In this way she can live her life very comfortably and can take care of house easily. God assigned all the financial requirements of women as a duty of men but even then he does not make women empty hand in economical rights.
Before Islam there was no concept of inheritance for women. Islam gave right to women in the inheritance. Women have half of the part as men have in parents properties. This does not mean she has half right than man. But as it is mentioned above she does not have any financial responsibility to fulfill as the men have. Therefore she can save or invest her part of the property for her future and making profit. It is also very clear in Islam that her husband can demand a single penny from her wife and she not bound to give anything to anybody.
In addition to she can buy property on her own name as a legal person. She can possess property without anybodys interference. She has complete right on her property as she can sale it, rent out it and can give it to anyone as a gift.
Furthermore, wife has right to get dowry from her husband before establishing matrimonial relations. Husband is bound to give her wife dowry at the time of marriage.
When Allah almighty created Eve (R.A) for Adam (R.A) .
Adam (R.A) was attracted towards Eve (R.A) and wanted to touch her.
At that time Allah almighty said to Adam (R.A) that
He should not touch her without paying her dowry.
One more thing needs attention here that Islam did not fix any maximum limit of dowry. Husband can give whatever maximum he can give to his wife.
In region of Hazrat Ummer(R.A) he forward a bill in the parliament for fixing the maximum limit of dowry. That bill was challenged by a female parliamentarian and she said nobody can fix the maximum limit of dowry if Allah himself did fix it. Hazrat ummer(R.A) asked her that why it couldnt be fixed.
She quoted the holy Quran
If husband gave her wife bundles and bundles of wealth as dowry even then he cannot demand anything after diverse.
Hazrat ummer (R.A) said that she is right and today men made a mistake and women corrected him.
Subsequently, maintenance is also on the shoulder of men at her stages of life. Father, brother, husband and son has to give her food clothes and other needs of life respectively.
Holy prophet (S A W) said,
Anyone who brought her daughters with full care and then merry them. He is as close to me as my two fingers.
Maintenance of x-wife is also husband responsibility during the period of Iddah. Some of Islamic scholars agreed that husband has to fulfill his x-wifes maintenance until her second marriage. In case if any childe from her x-husband then it is also responsibility of childs father.
Moreover, she has right to seek employment. If she wants to do a job and if society needs her then Islam give her full right to seek employment. But if she doesnt want to do the job then nobody can force her to seek employment. Similarly she has the right to do business and to trade things in order to earn finance.
Hazrat Khadija(R.A), Wife of Holy prophet (S A W) said, was the famous business lady at that time.
Apart from social and economic securities in Islam, women have also legal and political securities.
In the eyes of law she is as legal person as a man. she can be witness but her witness is half of man.It is not because she has half right as an human but due to her sensitive and shy nature. In fact God made her half responsible than man in all legal witnesses.
Similarly she has right to vote from first election of Islam.
After the election result of hazrat usman(R.A).Hazrat usman(R.A) and hazrat Ali (R.A) got equal votes. Therefore Hazrat abur Rahman bin Auf was appointed as a chief polling agent and assigned the task to get votes of men and women. He did this work three days and ultimately hazrat usman (R.A) elected.
Above event proved that women were having the right to vote from the beginning of Islam.
Adding to it, women used to work at different legal positions from the start of Islam. During the period of Holy prophet (S A W) women worked in different sectors such as in wars and in hospital.
Hazrat Ummer (R.A) appointed hazrat Shifa(R.A)as an administrator and account officer for the market.
Hazrat Usman(R.A) made hazrat umm-e-kulsoom an ambassador and sent her to Room.
Women has right to be consulted as other family members have right to be consulted. Many people believe that it is folly to act or listen women advise in fact they themselves are disbelievers and unaware to the sunna of Holy prophet (S A W).
At the event of Hudabiya Holy prophet (S A W) have consulted hazrat umm-e-Salma and acted on her advice to move on.
By summing up the whole discussing it can be said that Islam is the first sun that embrace women with light of all social, economical, legal and political rights before 15 centuries. It is very unjust if anybody is blaming Islam for the present state of suppresses women. In fact it is not Islam to be blamed it is because of forgetting the teachings of Islam.
In khutaba hijtul Weda, the Holy prophet (S A W) said,
O, people fear from Allah in the matter of women, treats them carefully and fairly as Islam teaches you.