The status of woman in Islam is the same eminent position of human beings; as in human beings there is no difference between man and woman. The holy Qur’an introduces the human being as the substitute of Allah on earth, and states that they are great. It says about them:
We have dignified the Children of Adam and transported them around on land and at sea. We have provided them with wholesome things and favored them especially over many of those whom we have created.(1) Qur’an (17:70)
Adam (a.s.) reached the stage that he was prostrated by all the angels, as the Qur’an says:
When I have finished with him and breathed from my spirit into him then drop down on your knee before him.(1)
All this was because he was a human being, and there is no difference between a man and a woman.
He taught Adam all the names of everything; then presented them to the angels, and said: “Tell me the names of these if you are so truthful.” They said: “Glory is to you; we have no knowledge except whatever you have taught us. You are the Aware, the Wise!” He said: “Adam, tell them their names.” Once he had told them their names, He said: “Did I not tell you that I know the Unseen in Heaven and Earth? I know whatever you disclose and whatever you have been hiding.” So We told the angels: “Bow down before Adam.” They (all) knelt down except for Diabolist. He refused and acted proudly, and became a disbeliever.(2)
If Adam (a.s.) was competent to understand those names and was competent to answer them, it was due to his special creation as a human being, and in this creation man and woman are equal. On the whole every virtue and exaltation, which has come in the Qur’an about human beings; man and woman are equal in it.
You will not find a single verse in Qur’an that degrades woman.
۱- Qur’an (15:29)
۲- Qur’an (2:31-34)
On this basis man and woman, from the viewpoint of Islam and Qur’an, are two human beings and there is no difference in them, and both are equally involved in managing the social responsibilities, some of which are as follow:
۱) Man and woman are equal in their birth, reproduction, and the survival of humanity.
O mankind, we have created you from a male and female, and set you up as nations and tribes so you may recognize [and cooperate with] one another. The noblest among you with God is that one of you who best performs his duty; God is Aware, Informed.(1)
Mankind, heed your Lord Who has created you from a single soul, and created its mate from it, and propagated so many men and women from them both. Heed God through Whom you hold one another responsible, as well as nay ties of kinship. God is Watching over you. .(2)
In the above verse both male and female are introduced as equally responsible for birth and continuing the generation of human beings, and they are the two main pillars of society. And fear of Allah is the standard, and the one who is more pious is superior among men and women.
۱- Qur’an (49:13)
۲- Qur’an (4:1)
۲) According to Qur’an, the only facility for the happiness of mankind is faith in Allah, purifying one’s soul, self-discipline against evil, fearing Allah and doing good deeds; and in these things there is no difference between men and women. Both are capable to acquire spiritual perfection and gain proximity to Allah.
The Qur’an says:
We shall let anyone who acts honorably. Whether it is a man or a woman, provided he is a believer, live a happy life and reward them with their earnings for the finest deeds they have been doing.(1)
And Qur’an says:
So their Lord responded to them; “I shall never waste the work of any worker among you, whether it is a man or a woman. Some of you [have sprung] from others..”(2)
Qur’an praises equally the men and women, those who are pious and do good deeds, and says:
Muslim men and Muslim women, believing men and believing women, devout men and devout women, truthful men and truthful women, patient men and patient women, reverent men and reverent women, charitable men and charitable women, fasting men and fasting women, and men who safeguard their private parts and women who safeguard [theirs], and men who remember God often and women who remember [Him] for [all of]
۱- Qur’an (4:97)
۲- Qur’an (3:195)
them God has prepared forgiveness and a splendid wage.(1)
As Qur’an has pointed to some good and pious men and has praised them, it has also mentioned some pious women and has praised them. For example:
It says about Mary:
Her Lord accepted her in a handsome manner and caused her to grow like a lovely plant and told Zachariach to take care of her. Every time Zachariah entered the shrine to [see] her, he found she had already been supplied with food. He said: “Mary, how can this be meant for you?” She said: “It comes from God, for God provides for anyone He wishes without any reckoning.”(2)
And again it says about Mary:
So the angels said: “Mary, God has selected you and purified you. He has selected you over [all] the women in the Universe.”(3)
And says about the wife of Pharaoh:
They will acknowledge their offence, so away with the inmates of the Blaze!.(4)
Fatima Zahra (s.a.) the daughter of the holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is also from the praised women, that the Verse of Purification was revealed for her, her husband, father and sons.
۱- Qur’an (33:35)
۲- Qur’an (3:37)
۳- Qur’an (3: 42)
۴- Qur’an (66:11)
The holy Qur’an says:
Remain in your homes and do not dress up fancily the way they used to dress during [the time of] primitive Ignorance. Keep up prayer and pay the welfare tax, and obey God and His messenger. God merely wants to remove any blight from you [since you are] People of the [prophet’s] House, and to cleanse you thoroughly.(1)
The Prophet (s.a.w.a.) said about them that there are four great ladies of Paradise: Mary – daughter of Imran, Fatimah – daughter of Muhammad (s.a.w.a.), Khadija daughter of Khuwailad, and Aasiya daughter of Muzahim and wife of Pharaoh.
As you observe, Qur’an doesn’t prevent women’s progress, growth, and acquiring the virtues of humanity. It acknowledges them to be fit for acquiring human values, in the same way as men, and points out their example.
Although some women are mentioned in Qur’an who had bad morals, like the wife of Prophets Noah and Lut; and wife of the infidel Abu Lahab (uncle of the Prophet)(2)
But it is not because they were women; it was due to their bad character (manners). Some men are also criticized like Pharaoh, Namrood, and Abu Lahab.
۳) Islam considers men and women as two main pillars of society; who have equal role in creating a beneficial society. Men and woman who live in society are equally affected by its good, as well as, bad influences. Due to this, it is also a common responsibility of both men and women to seek the improvement of the society.
۱- Qur’an (33:33)
۲- Qur’an (66:10), Chapter 111
The Qur’an says:
Believers, whether men or women, must [act as] friends to one another, they should command decency and forbid wickedness, keep up prayer, and pay the welfare tax as well as obey God and His messenger. Those God will grant mercy to; God is powerful, Wise!(1)
It is true that the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) did not make it incumbent for women to go to the battlefields and fight the enemies, but all the responsibility of the society is not taken away from them like inviting towards good and refraining from evil, defending the religion, and its introduction, propagation, and spreading Islam, opposing the enemies, defending the rights of the depressed and oppressed, co-operating in good work, helping the needy and poor, nursing the ill, handicapped and old people, fighting against social evils, training and teaching the children, to develop the society, encouraging the justice of Islamic government, defending Islamic values, helping in the economy of the family and country, and tens of other responsibilities which are carried out by men and women equally.
۴) The fourth similar role of women and men is acquiring knowledge and discovering the secrets of the world, acquiring benefits from it, for comfort and happiness in life. For the acquisition of knowledge and getting benefit from it, there is no difference in Islam between female and male, both are human beings, and have ability and responsibility.
۱- Qur’an (9:71)
Islam emphasizes a lot for acquiring knowledge and introduces it as one of the duties. For example, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said:
Acquisition of knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim. Know that Allah loves those who acquire knowledge.(1)
Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) said:
The scholar who is useful to people with his knowledge, is better than 70,000 worshippers.(2)
There are hundreds of traditions on this topic that do not discriminate between men and women in this matter. Women also have the duty to acquire knowledge, so that they become self-independent, especially for the skills which are for their own need like: medicine, dentistry, psychology, nursing, gynecology, pathology, education, ecology, chemistry, management, accounting, theology, exegeses, jurisprudence, history, grammar, arts, languages, law, economics and many other fields.
Women form half of the society and may have their share in its management. They should be specialists and experts in different fields, and should be self- independent, and get as many seats as are allocated to their male counterparts.
۱- Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, P. 30
۲- Al-Kafi, Vol. 1, P. 33
It is necessary that half of the seats and positions be allocated to women in hospitals, clinics, universities, high schools, primary schools, pharmacies, laboratories, schools for religious education, training of propagators, and centers of Islamic propagation. And there should have been equal number of female scholars and experts. But actually it is not like this. This may be due to two reasons:
۱) Selfishness and injustice of men during the centuries, that denied the natural rights of women, and kept them away from power.
۲) Carelessness’s, lack of self-confidence, going after comfort, embellishment and make-up, which prevented them to realize their rights, and they strayed to other ways. It is necessary that women be aware of their responsibilities and try hard to achieve independence, and take benefit from their legal rights.
THINK AND ANSWER
۱٫ What is the status of women in Islam?
۲٫ What is the role of women in human creation?
۳٫ What is the logic of Qur’an about the happiness of human beings?
۴٫ Are men and women equal as regards to happiness?
۵٫ What does Qur’an say about the good and pious women?
۶٫ What are the responsibilities of women for improvement and progress in the society?
۷٫ What is the teaching of Islam regarding acquisition of knowledge by women?
۸٫ What is the future course of action to be taken by women, and how can they become self-reliant?