Women in Islam

Are men and women equal in Islam?

Men and women are EQUAL in Islam, but equal does NOT mean IDENTICAL. In some cases women have a degree of advantage, while in some other cases men have a degree of advantage, BUT OVERALL MEN AND WOMEN ARE EQUAL.
For example in the matter of love and compassion of children towards their parents, the mother is supposed to get 75% as compared to the father's 25%. So here women have a degree of advantage. In the matter of strength generally men have more strength than women. So here men have a degree of advantage, but overall men and women are equal in Islam.

Are four witnesses needed to prove rape in an Islamic court of law?

Four witnesses are NOT needed to prove rape. If somebody accuses a woman of adultery, then the accuser has to bring 4 witnesses to prove the accusation otherwise the accuser will be punished with 80 lashes. As Qur'an clearly says,
"And those who launch a charge against chaste women, and produce not four witnesses (to support their allegations),- flog them with eighty stripes; and reject their evidence ever after: for such men are wicked transgressors;-"[Al-Qur'an 24:4]
So the requirement of four witnesses is to protect women from false accusations, NOT to subjugate them.
The testimony of the rape victim, circumstantial evidence and medical report proving the case of rape are enough to prove rape in an Islamic court of law.

Is Honour Killing allowed in Islam?

Honor killing is NOT allowed in Islam. In any case of supposed adultery the suspects must be taken to the court where they must get a fair trial and they can only be punished by the Islamic judge if four eye witnesses are available and prove that adultery really did take place . In case if any of the four eye witnesses faulters during cross examination, the four eye witnesses get 80 lashes each for bearing false and it is NOT by any means easy to bear those 80 lashes and hence stops anybody from bearing false witnesses just to just any INNOCENT human being punished for personal reasons.

Is the rape victim punished in Islam?

The rape victim is NOT punished in Islamic law and if anybody kills a RAPE VICTIM in a case of rape in the name of honor killing, the killer is punishable by death in Islamic law as in any other case of murder.

Can marriage solemnize withOUT the consent of the girl?

In Islam marriage can NOT solemnize withOUT the consent to the girl. Nobody can force a girl into a marrriage against her will. Even if anybody forces any girl into such a marriage then she can go to an Islamic judge, who will nullify such a marriage. As according to an authentic hadith a woman comes to the holy prophet and explains how her father has forced her into a marriage against her will and the prophet nullified the marriage.

Can the wife give divorce?

At the time of marriage the wife can put a condition in the marital contract and then even the wife can give unilateral divorce. If such a condition is not mentioned in the marital contract and the wife has valid reasons to seek a divorce then she can go to an Islamic judge, who will nullify the marriage.

Why by default, men have the right to give divorce in Islam?

As mentioned in the answer above, even women can give divorce in Islam. But by default men have the right to give divorce because husband is the real loser in case of a divorce. The husband has to give an amount of marital gift to his wife at marriage and if he has delayed its payment, he would be forced to pay it in case of a divorce. In addition, the husband even has to give maintainance to his ex-wife for the waiting period of 3 monthes and 10 days after divorce. The ex-wife can even charge his husband an amount for breast-feeding and cartaking of any young child the ex-couple may have. If the husband marries any woman, he would have to pay another amount of marital gift. While if the divorce wife marries any man, she would get another amount of marital gift. So we should in fact be complaining about men's rights in Islam:)

What does Islam say about Marital rape?

Lets see why would the wife NOT let her husband approach her causing any whatsoever possibility of marital rape. There can be two reasons.
1- Because she does NOT like her husband
2- It hurts her
1- In Islam NObody can force a girl into marriage against her will. Because it is must in Islam to the girl's consent before marriage. Even if anybody forces a girl into marriage with somebody she does NOT like then she can go to an Islamic judge who will nullify the marriage.
2- According to medical science it hurts her most during menstrual periods and Islam has prohibited approaching the wives during menstrual periods.
So Islam does NOT let any chance of marital rape to occur. That is why there is NOthing like marital rape in Islam.

Do men have any degree of superiority over the women in Islam?

Al-Quran 4:34 says;
"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God 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 God would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye 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 God is Most High, great (above you all)."
The word used for men in this verse is "QAWWAM". "QAWWAM" means "protectors and maintainers". This adds to one of the responsibilities of men, it means a degree of responsibility NOT superiority, since at general rule men have more strength than women.
As far as the obedience of wives towards their husbands is concerned, husbands can only command their wives within the limits of Islamic law and the Islamic law protects all the rights of wives and women in general. The wife is supposed to obey the husband as long as the husband remains within limits of Islamic law, but if the husband commands the wife against the wife's rights, the wife is NOT supposed to obey because violating women's rights is against Islamic law, since Islamic law protects the rights of women.

Does Islam allow the husband to beat his wife?

Al-Quran 4:34 says that if the wife transgresses all the bounds, then several things are prescribed in the verse. 1- Verbal admonition. 2- Not sharing her bed. 3- Then as a last resort physical admonition.
PHYSICAL ADMONITION:- This physical admonition is beating as light as BEATING WITH A TOOTH PICK or in modern day terms it is like BEATING WITH A HANDKERCHIEF. Now you can yourself judge how lightly it is to beat with a tooth pick or a handkerchief. It is NOT allowed to beat the wife on the face and any mark should NOT occur on the body.
Some sisters still go on to argue that why even beating with a handkerchief?
I ask such sisters and even brothers; suppose you have a son, who you love a lot. If your son wants to jump from a 9 storey building and you verbally admonish him with love, but he still wants to jump, you scold him, but he still wants to jump, so would you let him jump or would you lightly admonish him physically? If you love your son, you definitely will lightly admonish him physically. If you don't that would mean you do not love him. So as a last resort light physical admonition can be used to avoid any major loss.

Does Islam allow women to work?

In Islam women can work if they want with segregation of sexes at the workplace with seperate but EQUAL facilities for both men and women. But nobody can force them to work. Some jobs are prohibited for both men and women. Like jobs dealing with alcohol as alcohol is extremely harmful to human health and hence prohibited by God. Prohibited for women are the jobs which involve the exploitation of the body.

Why women inherit half the share than that of men?

In Islam men are entirely responsible for the all the financial burden of the family. When a son inherits one full share from his parents he has to pay wife an amount of marital gift to his wife at the time of marriage from his share. He has to look after the lodging, boarding, clothing and all other financial responsibilities of the entire family and the brother has to even look after all the financial requirements of the sister from HIS own share. While the daughter who inherits half a share, does NOT have to spend it on anybody and even all her financial requirments are fulfilled by the father and brother before HER marriage and by the the husband after the marriage. So the daughter inherits half a share and gets to keep it all herself. While the son gets a share which he has to spend all on the family and hardly get to keep any of it.
So would you prefer to get a million dollars and spend it all on others and get to keep none of it or get half a million and keep it all to yourself only?

What is the legal age of marriage in Islam?

Different countries have set different legal ages for marriage. In Philpines it is 14. In America it is 16. So the marriage which is legal in Philpines is illegal in America. While the marriage which is legal in US is illegal in India since the legal age of marriage is 18 in India. The legal age for marriage differs from one country to another and from one region to another due to the different factors effecting the growth rate. Due to its universality in Islam the legal for marriage is at puberty.On reaching puberty Islam gives the boy and the girl the freedom to marry according to their will if they want or postpone their marriage to marry at a later age if they want. So Islam gives them the freedom of choice in the matters related to marriage at puberty. In Britain 21 underage school girls become pregnant everyday. It is a real shame that the British government allows girls to get pregnant at the ages of 13, 14 and 15 but does NOT allow them to marry gracefully if they wish to. Countries and families should rather give them the previlage to marry or not to marry according to their wish at puberty, to avoid such dire consequences.

Are women allowed in Islam to travel alone by themselves?

In Islam womnen can travel alone as long as it is safe along the way. Since modern day air travel is safe enough so women can travel alone by air as long as there is someone to pick them up at the airport on their arrival. To places which may involve risk along the way the women should travel to such places only when with a male guardian.

Why Islam subjugates women by keeping them behind the veil(Hijab)?

When people talk about Hijab they talk about Hijab for women, but Qur'an talks about Hijab for men first in Al-Qur'an 24:30, "Say to the believing men that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty: that will make for greater purity for them: And God is well acquainted with all that they do." Then after that Qur'an talks about Hijab for women in Al-Qur'an 24:31, "And say to the believing women that they should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; 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, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that they should not strike their feet in order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye Believers! turn ye all together towards God, that ye may attain Bliss."
The extent for men is from knee to navel should be covered and for women all the body should be covered except the face and hands till wrists. The other points for Hijab are same for both men and women. Clothes should NOT be revealing, should NOT be too tight to show the curves of the body, should NOT be too glamorous, should NOT be that of the opposite sex and should NOT be the symbol of any other religion.
now I ask you if there are twin sisters who are EQUALLY beautiful. One of the sisters is wearing the Western clothes the short skirts and minis while the other is wearing the Islamic Hijab. They both are walking down the street and on the corner of the street a hooligan, a goon is waiting to tease a girl. So which sister is he going to tease the girl wearing the Western clothes or the one wearing the Islamic Hijab? Naturally he will tease the sister wearing the Western clothes. So Hijab prevents molestation.
According to 1996 FBI reports there were 2713 rapes in USA everyday. That is A RAPE IN EVERY 32 SECONDS.
Now I ask you if you put in place the Islamic ruling in USA that if any man sees a woman and any bad thought comes in his mind he should lower his gaze and women should dress modestly. If still anybody commits rape then he should be punished by death. Will the number of rapes in USA increase, decrease or remain the same? Naturally it will decrease.

Is asking the would be wife for dowry allowed in Islam?

Islam does not allow asking the would be wife for dowry be it directly or indirectly. But rather the husband has to pay an amount of marital gift to his wife at the time of marriage.

Does Islam Make The Face Veil Obligatory For Muslim Women?

Covering the face is NOT obligatory for women in Islam, but is preferable and recommended.

Does a Wife have the right to refuse sex with her Husband?

If a husband expresses his desire for sexual intercourse with his wife, and asks her to fulfill his need, then she should fulfill her husband's desire, and she has no right to refuse him or deprive him of his need (unless of course if she is undergoing her monthly menstruation period or is down with illness.

Islam encourages and insists on chastity and fidelity. Islam prohibits and condemn illicit sexual relations, extra-maritial affairs, pre-marriage sex, fornication, adultery, prostitution, pornography and promiscuity. It is for this reason that a wife is bound to fulfill her husband's sexual desires so as to prevent him form straying.

Narrarted Abu Huraira
Allah's Apostle (Pbuh) said, " If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relations) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning." (Sahih Al-Bukhari Vol. 4 Hadith No. 460 & Sahih Muslim Vol. 2 Hadith No. 3368)

Narrated Abu Huraira
The Messenger of Allah (swt) said: By him in whose hand is my life, when a man calls his wife to his bed, and she does not respond, the One Who is in the heaven is displeased with her untill he (her husband) is pleased with her. (Sahih Muslim Vol. 2 Hadith No. 3367)

Narrated Taiq ibn Ali
Allah's Messenger (Pbuh) said, " When a man calls his wife to satisfy his desire she must go to him even if she is occupied at the oven." (Al Tirmidhi Hadith No. 1160 & Ibn Ma'jah Hadith No. 4165)

From all the above mentioned Ahadith, it is Wajib upon the wife to fulfill the desire of her husband whenever he wishes. If the relationship between the husband and the wife is truly based on Islamic principles, in which both of them treat each other with love, affection, kindness, fulfilling all Islamic desires and settling all matters with mutual agreement and understanding, the question of the wife refusing the sexual desire of the husband does not arise. Nor does the question arise of the husband being insistent or getting perturbed at her not wanting to have sex.

Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an in Surah Rum, Chapter 30, verse no. 21:
" And among His signs is this that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are Signs for those who reflect."

If on certain rare occasions, the husband shows a desire for sexual intercourse with his wife, and for some genuine reason the wife shows a hesitation (not refusal), then it is possible, the husband can be understanding and voluntarily and happily give indication for postponement!

Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an, in Surah Baqara, chapter 2, verse no. 187:
"They (your wives) are your garments. And you are their garments."

Here, because of the strong bond between the husband and the wife, if the husband is not displeased or angry, the angels will not curse his wife and neither will she displease the Almighty. And Allah knows the best.

Why are women not allowed to go to the mosque?

Women are allowed in the mosque. Prophet Mohammed(pbuh) instructed that if women want to go to the mosque even during the night-time let them go. He even instructed men to take their women along to the Eid prayer even if the women are having menstrual periods and can NOT offer prayers.

Why is a man allowed to have more than one wife in Islam?

1. Definition of Polygamy
Polygamy means a system of marriage whereby one person has more than one spouse. Polygamy can be of two types. One is polygyny where a man marries more than one woman, and the other is polyandry, where a woman marries more than one man. In Islam, limited polygyny is permitted; whereas polyandry is completely prohibited.

Now coming to the original question, why is a man allowed to have more than one wife?
2. The Qur’an is the only religious scripture in the world that says, “marry only one”.
The Qur’an is the only religious book, on the face of this earth, that contains the phrase ‘marry only one’. There is no other religious book that instructs men to have only one wife. In none of the other religious scriptures, whether it be the Vedas, the Ramayan, the Mahabharat, the Geeta, the Talmud or the Bible does
one find a restriction on the number of wives. According to these scriptures one can marry as many as one wishes. It was only later, that the Hindu priests and the Christian Church restricted the number of wives to one. Many Hindu religious personalities, according to their scriptures, had multiple wives. King Dashrat, the father of Rama, had more than one wife. Krishna had several wives.
In earlier times, Christian men were permitted as many wives as they wished, since the Bible puts no restriction on the number of wives. It was only a few centuries ago that the Church restricted the number of wives to one.
Polygyny is permitted in Judaism. According to Talmudic law, Abraham had three wives, and Solomon had hundreds of wives. The practice of polygyny continued till Rabbi Gershom ben Yehudah (960 C.E to 1030 C.E) issued an edict against it. The Jewish Sephardic communities living in Muslim countries continued the practice till as late as 1950, until an Act of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel extended the ban on marrying more than one wife.
(*Interesting Note:- As per the 1975 census of India Hindus are more polygynous than Muslims. The report of the ‘Committee of The Status of Woman in Islam’, published in 1975 mentions on page numbers 66 and 67 that the percentage of polygamous marriages between the years 1951 and 1961 was 5.06% among the Hindus and only 4.31% among the Muslims. According to Indian law only Muslim men are permitted to have more than one wife. It is illegal for any non-Muslim in India to have more than one wife. Despite it being illegal, Hindus have more multiple wives as compared to Muslims. Earlier, there was no restriction even on Hindu men with respect to the number of wives allowed. It was only in 1954, when the Hindu Marriage Act was passed that it became illegal for a Hindu to have more than one wife. At present it is the Indian Law that restricts a Hindu man from having more than one wife and not the Hindu scriptures.)

Let us now analyse why Islam allows a man to have more than one wife.
3. Qur’an permits limited polygyny
As I mentioned earlier, Qur’an is the only religious book on the face of the earth that says ‘marry only one’. The context of this phrase is the following verse from Surah Nisa of the Glorious Qur’an:
“Marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one.” [Al-Qur’an 4:3]
Before the Qur’an was revealed, there was no upper limit for polygyny and many men had scores of wives, some even hundreds. Islam put an upper limit of four wives. Islam gives a man permission to marry two, three or four women, only on the condition that he deals justly with them.
In the same chapter i.e. Surah Nisa verse 129 says:
“Ye are never able to be fair and just as between women....” [Al-Qur’an 4:129]
Therefore polygyny is not a rule but an exception. Many people are under the misconception that it is compulsory for a Muslim man to have more than one wife.
Broadly, Islam has five categories of Do’s and Don’ts:
(i) ‘Fard’ i.e. compulsory or obligatory
(ii) ‘Mustahab’ i.e. recommended or encouraged
(iii) ‘Mubah’ i.e. permissible or allowed
(iv) ‘Makruh’ i.e. not recommended or discouraged
(v) ‘Haraam’ i.e. prohibited or forbidden
Polygyny falls in the middle category of things that are permissible. It cannot be said that a Muslim who has two, three or four wives is a better Muslim as compared to a Muslim who has only one wife.

4. Average life span of females is more than that of males
By nature males and females are born in approximately the same ratio. A female child has more immunity than a male child. A female child can fight the germs and diseases better than the male child. For this reason, during the pediatric age itself there are more deaths among males as compared to the females.
During wars, there are more men killed as compared to women. More men die due to accidents and diseases than women. The average life span of females is more than that of males, and at any given time one finds more widows in the world than widowers.

5. India has more male population than female due to female foeticide and infanticide
India is one of the few countries, along with the other neighbouring countries, in which the female population is less than the male population. The reason lies in the high rate of female infanticide in India, and the fact that more than one million female foetuses are aborted every year in this country, after they are identified as females. If this evil practice is stopped, then India too will have more females as compared to males.

6. World female population is more than male population 
In the USA, women outnumber men by 7.8 million. New York alone has one million more females as compared to the number of males, and of the male population of New York one-third are gays i.e sodomites. The U.S.A as a whole has more than twenty-five million gays. This means that these people do not wish to marry women. Great Britain has four million more females as compared to males. Germany has five million more females as compared to males. Russia has nine million more females than males. God alone knows how many million more females there are in the whole world as compared to males.

7. Restricting each and every man to have only one wife is not practical
Even if every man got married to one woman, there would still be more than thirty million females in U.S.A who would not be able to get husbands (considering that America has twenty five million gays). There would be more than four million females in Great Britain, 5 million females in Germany and nine million females in Russia alone who would not be able to find a husband.
Suppose my or your sister happens to be one of the unmarried women living in USA, or suppose your sister happens to be one of the unmarried women in USA. The only two options remaining for her are that she either marries a man who already has a wife or becomes 'public property'. There is no other option. All those who are modest will opt for the first. Most women would not like to share their husband with other women. But in
Islam when the situation deems it really neccessary Muslim women in due faith could bear a small personal loss to prevent a greater loss of letting other Muslim sisters becoming 'public properties'.

8. Marring a married man preferable to becoming 'public property'
In Western society, it is common for a man to have mistresses and/or multiple extra-marital affairs, in which case, the woman leads a disgraceful, unprotected life. The same society, however, cannot accept a man having more than one wife, in which women retain their honorable, dignified position in society and lead a protected life. Thus the only two options before a woman who cannot find a husband is to marry a married man or to become 'public property'. Islam prefers giving women the honourable position by permitting the first option and disallowing the second.
There are several other reasons, why Islam has permitted limited polygyny, but it is mainly to protect the modesty of women.

If a man is allowed to have more than one wife, then why does Islam prohibit a woman from having more than one husband?

A lot of people, including some Muslims, question the logic of allowing Muslim men to have more than one spouse while denying the same ‘right’ to women. Let me first state emphatically, that the foundation of an Islamic society is justice and equity. Allah has created men and women as equal, but with different capabilities and different responsibilities. Men and women are different, physiologically and psychologically. Their roles and responsibilities are different.
Men and women are equal in Islam, but not identical.
Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verses 22 to 24 gives the list of women with whom Muslim men can not marry. It is further mentioned in Surah Nisa’ Chapter 4 verse 24
“Also (prohibited are) women already married”

The following points enumerate the reasons why polyandry is prohibited in Islam:
1. If a man has more than one wife, the parents of the children born of such marriages can easily be identified.
The father as well as the mother can easily be identified. In case of a woman marrying more than one husband,
only the mother of the children born of such marriages will be identified and not the father. Islam gives tremendous importance to the identification of both parents, mother and father. Psychologists tell us that children who do not know their parents, especially their father undergo severe mental trauma and disturbances. Often they have an unhappy childhood. It is for this reason that the children of prostitutes do not have a healthy childhood. If a child born of such wedlock is admitted in school, and when the mother is asked the name of the father, she would have to give two or more names! I am aware that recent advances in science have made it possible for both the mother and father to be identified with the help of genetic testing. Thus this point which was applicable for the past may not be applicable for the present.

2. Man is more polygamous by nature as compared to a woman.

3. Biologically, it is easier for a man to perform his duties as a husband despite having several wives.  A woman, in a similar position, having several husbands, will not find it possible to perform her duties as a wife. A woman undergoes several psychological and behavioral changes due to different phases of the menstrual cycle.

4. A woman who has more than one husband will have several sexual partners at the same time and has a high chance of acquiring venereal or sexually transmitted diseases which can also be transmitted back to her husband even if all of them have no extra-marital sex. This is not the case in a man having more than one wife, and none of them having extra-marital sex.
The above reasons are those that one can easily identify. There are probably many more reasons why Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, has prohibited polyandry.

Does Islam allow a woman to be the Head of State?
There is no direct reference in the Qur’aan that prohibits a woman from being a head of state. However, since Islam considers the male to be the leader of the house, therefore the head of the state should also be a male.

Let us examine the pros and cons of a woman being the head of state in the present situation:
1. The head of State at times leads congregational prayers. 
A woman cannot be an Imam because during Salaah there are several postures to be adopted such as standing, bowing and prostrating. If a woman leads prayers with men standing behind, it is bound to create disturbance and distraction. (Also it is prohibited for a female to lead the congregational prayer with men following)

2. The head of state very often has to meet other heads of state that are usually male. 
Islam does not permit inter-mingling of sexes. Many times they have private closed-door meetings. Islam does not permit a woman to be alone in a closed room with any males (except her father, brother, husband, & son).

3. There is usually a lot of media exposure of the head of state.
Photographs and Video recordings are regularly taken and there is normally some physical contact between the head of State and other dignitaries, including handshakes. Physical contact between male and female (except husband and wife) is prohibited.

4. During the menstrual cycle there are certain mental, psychological and behavioral changes that take place in women due to the release of the sex hormone, oestrogen. 

5. If a woman gets pregnant she requires rest for a few months during which she will not be able to attend to the duties as a head of state.

6. If she has children, her responsibility as a mother is more important than that as a head of state.
Therefore I am more inclined to the view of those scholars who say that a woman should not be made the head of state. However this does not mean that women cannot take active part in politics. They have a right to vote as well as take part in law making.

Why are two witnesses who are women, equivalent to only one witness who is a man ?

Two female witnesses are NOT always considered equal to one male witnesses. Only in a case of business transactions and case of murder two female witnesses are equal to one male witness. Because in Islam men are responsible for the financial burden of the family and therefore men generally deal with financial transactions and as a result men know more about financial matters than women. So of course in financial transactions any financial expert is preferred to someone who knows less about financial matters, even business firms consult financial experts NOT general public, but that does NOT mean that they consider them unequal. Some scholars are of the opinion that the feminine attitude can also have an effect on the witness in a murder case. In such circumstances a woman is more terrified as compared to a man. Due to her emotional condition she can get confused. Therefore, according to some jurists, even in cases of murder, two female witnesses are equivalent to one male witness. In all other cases, one female witness is equivalent to one male witness. In all other cases, one female witness is equivalent to one male witness. As the Qur'an says in Sura an Noor Chapter 24 Verse 6
“And those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own - their solitary evidence can be received.”
Ayesha (May Allah be pleased with her) the wife of the beloved Prophet has narrated no less than 2220 Ahadith which are considered authentic only on her solitary evidence. This is sufficient proof that one witness of a women can also be accepted. Some incidents require only female witness and that of a male cannot be accepted. For instance, in dealing with the problems of women.

About Unknown

Student of BA in Islamic Studies at the Islamic Online University. Can be reached at @LiaqatQazi
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