All are equal and no discrimination: Islam considers both men and women as equal. But being Deen e fitrah (Natural Deen), Quran recognizes the inherent differences existing between the two sexes and accordingly divides duties and rights amongst them. Barring this, there is no difference between them.
” And for women have rights over men, similar to those of men over women.”(2:228)
Islam grants equal status to both sexes. Man is duty bound to earn and maintain their families, while as woman has freedom to earn if she wishes, otherwise her husband is duty bound to look after her.
“To men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn.”(4:32).
Islam was the first religion to provide inheritance rights to women. At a time when the so called “godfather” of liberty (West) was treating women as no less than slaves, it was Islam which considered them as no less than princesses.
“From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large-a determinate share.”(4:7).
“It is only in last 20 years that Christian England has recognized the right of women to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times. It is a slander to say that Islam preaches that women have no souls”.(The life and teachings of Mohammad).
Right to choose soulmate:
Islam believes in giving freedom to women to choose her soul mate. If a bridegroom is chosen for women against her wish, she can decline the said offer. And no power on earth can force her into that relationship. “Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may take away part of the dower ye have given them.”(4:19).
Rights of widows:
Unlike other religions, Islam doesn’t consider widows as soulless creatures, who are condemned for all the bad things. Instead Islam gives full rights to widows as well. They have been given the right to remarry so as to bring some colour back to their lives. Similarly widows have been given right to ask for their maintenance as well.
“If any of you die and leave widows behind, they shall wait concerning themselves four months and ten days. When they have fulfilled their term, there is no blame on you if they dispose of themselves in a just and reasonable manner. And God is well acquainted with what ye do.”(2:234).
“Those of you who die and leave widows should bequeath for their widows a year’s maintenance and residence, but if they leave (the residence), there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves, provided it is reasonable.”(2:240).
Women and education:
Islam has always emphasized on obtaining education and while doing so, no discrimination is made between men and women. When Quran pronounces, Iqra (read), It doesn’t discriminate between men and women. This order is for both men and women. Similarly when seeking knowledge is made Fard by Islam, it’s made Fard for both men and women.
Just a cursory glance on the verses from Quran quoted above makes it absolutely clear that Islam believes in justice. And hence doesn’t discriminate between men and women on the basis of sex. Yes being Deen e Fitrah, Islam keeps in consideration the limitation of both the sexes and accordingly gives rights to both of them, which helps in the proper development of all.
(Much help has been taken from the book “The essence of the divine verses” by Dr Javed Jamil while preparing this piece). Response at email@example.com.