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MONTHLY    *    Vol 13-02 No:146    *   FEBRUARY 1999/ RAMADAN 1419H
email: editor@islamicvoice.com

WOMEN IN ISLAM


Islam and the question of Gender Equality


Islam and the question of Gender Equality

Mufti Zubair Bayat

When the point has been accepted that men and women are not the same and that they have not been created for the same purpose, then common sense dictates that their rights cannot be the same or equal.

Common sense dictates that there can be no “equal” rights.

Allah, our Supreme Creator, has granted either gender its rights; men their rights and women theirs - some of these rights are common to both genders; some special to men and some special to women. Allah has created both men and women to play their special role on earth. Some of the duties women are capable of doing are beyond the ability of men, while some of mans duties are beyond the ability of women. Men and women are not exactly equal and alike; this is why both have been created in the first place as both have an important role to play. If this was not the case, it would have sufficed to create just one of them. Every action of His is dictated by Divine Wisdom and Knowledge and it is not possible that Allah would create anything in this universe in vain, with no purpose.

When the point has been accepted that men and women are not the same and that they have not been created for the same purpose, then common sense dictates that their rights cannot be the same or equal. There can be no “equality” of rights. Just as they are different in purpose of creation and duties, either gender should have its independent set of rights, although some may be common, others may differ. This ought to have been a simple, straight-forward, logical fact of life, yet it has become one of the most confounded and complicated issue in the modern world where most people seem to be supporting the notion of “gender equality” or “equality of rights between man and woman”.

Serious Western thinkers doubt concept of “gender equality”

These days some serious thinkers in the West are also beginning to accede to the fact that men and women are not totally equal; that this is more than clear and evident when viewed from every angle of their lives. Whether it is the physiological, psychological, emotional or intellectual aspects of life, it is clear that men and women are distinctly different. When they are not exactly equal, it follows that they should not share rights that are completely equal. To continue to insist on the “equality” of rights as is being done so vehemently in the West is to actually pursue an illogical ideology which is bound to have serious repercussions and is most likely to upset the delicate balance of nature and defeat the very purpose of “separate creation” of men and women. Islam which embodies and cherishes logical and reasonable ideals does not and cannot support an illogical concept such as “gender equality”.

Adverse propaganda cannot shake a true Muslim’s understanding of issues of women’s rights.

Because Islam has recognised the distinct separation of duties and purpose of creation between the sexes, and hence the logical and sensible “separation of rights”, rather than “equality” of rights, misguided persons have unjustly hurled accusations of bias and prejudice against Islam on its position towards womankind. It has even been alleged that Islam has in fact oppressed women or at least that Muslim men, by virtue of their Islamic values, oppress their women! Yet any person who has undertaken even a superficial study of Islam knows that the evidence is to the contrary. It is beyond the scope of this article to delve into a lengthy exposition of the rights that women enjoy under Islam, but suffice it to say that it is a universally accepted fact that prior to Islam, the position of women in society had indeed been pathetic. It is among the universally acclaimed accomplishments of The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), by friend and foe, that his religious order, Islam, had granted women such a status in society and such rights as no previous civilization had ever done before.

Since Muslims regard the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as the final Messenger and his religious order, Islam, as the last and most perfect way of life, it is simple for them to understand that no order, system, civilization can ever improve the status or rights of women more than Islam has done. To believe otherwise, is to actually doubt the completeness and perfection of Islam, something no person who claims to adhere to or cherish Islam will ever do. If this simple and fundamental truth is whole-heartedly embraced by the people of Islam, no amount of adverse propaganda will affect their understanding of the rights and position - of women in Islam.

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