Concept of Equality Between Man and Woman

Islam propagates a concept of equality between man and woman which speaks of the fact that Allah has created both man and woman from the same matter. Just like a man is an integral part of this system so is a woman and both have been created by Allah for their specific purposes. Both have a right to be respected and honoured. Just like he possesses certain talents, so does a woman and as she possesses certain emotions, trends and natural inclinations so do a man. Allah says:

 

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُونُوا قَوَّامِينَ لِلَّهِ شُهَدَاءَ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَلَا يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَىٰ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا ۚ اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَىٰ

 

“O you who have faith, stand firm for Allah as witnesses in equity (list, and let not the hatred of people cause you to not be just. Be just (‘idlu), for that is nearer to righteousness.” (Surah Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

 

Gender inequality, a hot issue, is genetically ascribed to religion whereas its causes are purely non-religious. It originates from political, economic, social and cultural factors. Numerous Verses of the Qur’an and Prophetic Traditions enjoin gender equality which categorically proves that gender inequality is not faith-based. In Islam, men and women are moral equals in God’s sight and are expected to fulfil the same duties of worship, prayer, faith, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Allah says:

 

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَجَعَلَ الظُّلُمَاتِ وَالنُّورَ ۖ ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ يَعْدِلُونَ

 

“All praise is due to Allah, who created the heavens and the earth and made darkness and light. Yet those who disbelieve claim equals (ya’dilun) with their Lord.” (Surah Al-An’am 6:1)

 

Man or woman are created from a single entity and are equal genders. As a gender, one is not superior to the other. In society, both man and woman should have responsibilities according to their talents and they should have all the rights according to their responsibilities. Each one should work in his/her territory freely, to fulfil the purpose for which he/she has been created.

 

The Concept of Equality Between Man and Woman in Islam:
  1. Equality in the utilize natural resources
  2. Equality in governs all facts of life
  3. Equality in holding on to morals
  4. Equality in the spiritual aspect
  5. Equality in all religious duties
  6. Equality in dignity and honour
  7. Equality in the knowledge of
  8. Equality in individual duty
  9. Equality in collective duty
  10. Equality in education
  11. Equality in humanity
  12. Equality in subliming
  13. Equality in politeness
  14. Equality in inheritance
  15. Equality in calling to Allah
  16. Equality in the right to work 
  17. Equality in the economic aspect
  18. Equality is a foundation of Islam
  19. Equality in the right to opinions and beliefs
  20. Equality in moral duties and responsibilities

One cannot argue that to take care of a household is not important compared to running an office, or to raise children is degrading compared to trade or learning war techniques. All the roles played by men and women for the survival of the collective and social system are equally important. There is no right conferred on a man that woman may be deprived of because she is a woman. Allah says:

 

وَفِي أَمْوَالِهِمْ حَقٌّ لِّلسَّائِلِ وَالْمَحْرُومِ

 

“And in their properties is a right for the needy and deprived.” (Surah Al-Dhariyat 51:19)

 

Here the Qur’an refers to man’s superiority by his responsibility of protection and maintenance of woman and fulfilment of their rights. Nature has made him stronger, more responsible and tolerant concerning mundane matters of life. So man is held superior to woman in the grade of responsibility. Social and societal structure of Islam is based on a family system which can be secure if made subservient to natural discipline: Allah says:

 

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ

 

“The believing men and women are allies of one another.” (Surah Al-Tawbah 9:71)

 

The basic rites of Islam (prayer, fasting, alms-giving, pilgrimage) are incumbent upon both males and females. All believers will be rewarded, according to their actions and the sincerity of their intentions, irrespective of gender. The Quran clearly states: Allah says:

 

فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لَا أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ ۖ بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ

 

“Their Lord responded to them: Never will I cause to be lost the deeds of any among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.” (Surah Ali Imran 3:195)

 

Nature is not stingy in blessing man and woman. If a man is blessed with the element of invention and innovation, a woman is blessed with the ability to take care of the results of this creativity. If a man has the aptitude for certain fields of study, a woman also has the aptitude for some others. Today women belonging to the feminist movement consider all these duties degrading which nature wants them to perform and hold the responsibilities imposed on men in high esteem.

 

Allah Almighty says in The Holy Quran:
  • “Men are guardians and managers over women.” (al-Quran, 4:34)
  • ”And their Lord has accepted of them and answered them: “Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you be it male or female: you are members of one another …” (Quran 3:195)
  • “(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him and He is the One that hears and sees (all things).” (Quran 42:11)
  • ”If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them.” (Quran 4:124)

The Concept of Equality which is not Acceptable to Islam

Islam does not approve the concept of equality which is either based on the notion that man and woman are born equal, and so their fields of activity, duties, and rights should also be the same. If the social and collective system of Islam is interpreted in the light of the concept of equality, it will not only turn out to be a failure but the person trying to do so will be disappointed. Allah says:

 

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

 

“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, (the) most noble of you near Allah (is the) most righteous of you Indeed, Allah (is) All-Knower, All-Aware.” (Surah Al-Hujurat 49:13)

 

If men and women are trained based on this supposition then the whole society will be cast in a mould and it will become impossible for the society to accept the legitimate Islamic system in the future. Any step in this direction will clash with Islam and this clash will not only be with Islam but directly with Qur’an and Sunnah. A few examples are presented here to have a clear understanding of this conflict. Allah says:

 

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

 

“O mankind! Consciously revere your Lord the One Who created you from a soul single and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And consciously revere Allah (through) Whom you ask [with it] and the wombs. Indeed, Allah is over you Ever-Watchful.” (Surah An-Nisa, 4:1)

 

The concept of equality upholds the notion of complete equality between man and women in social and collective circles. The rights and responsibility of women; it also announces a certain degree of precedence of man over woman in the social set-up and considers it necessary for the balance of the society, because the burden of earning livelihood for the family is borne by man, and because of his capabilities he is suitable to carry out this task, that is why he must have rights according to this heavy responsibility. Allah says:

 

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَاةً طَيِّبَةً وَلَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ

 

“Whoever does righteous deeds whether male or female while he (is) a believer, then surely We will give him l a life good, and We will pay them their reward to (the) best of what they used (to) do.” (Surah An-Nahl 16:97)

 

And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and men are a degree above them. This precedence is explained further that since the responsibility of earning a livelihood for the family is given to man, it is he who should be the maintainer of woman. Men are the maintainers of women, with what Allah has made some of them to excel others and with what they spend out of their wealth. So the good women are obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded. Allah says:

 

مَنْ عَمِلَ سَيِّئَةً فَلَا يُجْزَىٰ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا وَمَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ يُرْزَقُونَ فِيهَا بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

 

“Whoever does evil then not he will be recompensed but (the) like thereof; and whoever does righteous (deeds), of male or female, while he (is) a believer, then those will enter Paradise, they will be given provision in it without an account.” (Surah Ghafir 40:40)

 

An obvious outcome of the western concept of equality is that women should have an equal share in inheritance; but as Islam has put the responsibility of earning a livelihood on a man so it has granted the man a share equal to the share of two women in inheritance. Allah enjoins you concerning your children, for the male is the equal of the portion of two females.

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