Rights of Women in Islam : Modernising or Outdated?

The Women’s Rights in Islam : Modernising or Outdated?

Lecture/Talk by Dr. Zakir Naik

‘As-salaamu Alaikum Warahamatullahi Wabarakatuhu’ – ‘May peace blessing and mercy of Almighty Allah, be on all of you’.

The topic of today’s day is – ‘The Women’s Rights in Islam – Modernising or Outdated?’

According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘Women’s Rights are the rights, that promote a position of social and legal equality, of women to men’. According to the Oxford dictionary, ‘they are the rights, claimed for the women, equal to those of men, as regards to suffrage that right to vote, as regards to property, etc’. ‘Modernising’, according to the Oxford dictionary means, ‘to make modern, to adapt to modern needs or habits’. And according to the Webster’s dictionary it means ‘To make modern, or to give a new character or appearance – e.g., to modernise ones ideas’.

In short, modernising is a process of updating or opting for the betterment of the present status itself – It is not the present modern status itself.

Can we modernise ourselves, to master our problems, and to realize a new way of life, for the whole human race? I am not concerned about the modern ideas, the conclusions and the categorical statements made by scientists and inexperienced armchair experts, as how a life should be lived by a woman. I am going to base my conclusions and considerations on truth, which can be proved by experience. Experience and unbiased factual holistic analysis, are the sure test, between the gold of truth, and the glitter of theory.

We have to check our thinking against reality, otherwise many a times, our mental process will go astray – Indeed the great brains of one time, believed that the world was flat. If we agree with the ‘Women’s rights in Islam’, as portrayed by the Western media, you have no option, but to agree that the ‘Women’s rights in Islam’ are outdated. The Western talk of women’s liberation, is actually a disguised form of exploitation of her body, deprivation of her honour and degradation of her soul. The Western society which speaks of upgrading the status of women in Islam, have actually reduced her status to concubines, to mistresses, to society butterflies, which are mere tools in the hands of sex marketers and pleasure seekers, which are disguised behind the colorful screen of art and culture.

Islam’s radical revolutionary support, gave women their due right and status in the days of ignorance… 1,400 years ago. Islam’s objective was and continues to be, to modernise our thinking, our living, our seeing, our hearing, our feeling and striving for the women’s upliftment and emancipation in the society. Before I dwell further with the topic, I would like you to make note of a few points. The first point is that, ‘approximately one fifth of the world’s population, consists of Muslims’. There are different Muslim societies – Some may be close to Islam, some may be far away from Islam. The ‘Women’s rights in Islam’ should judged according to the authentic sources, and not what individual Muslims do, or what the Muslim society does.

The authentic sources of Islam, are the Quran, which is the word of God, and the authentic Sunnah, and the traditions of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (may peace and blessings be upon him). Point number four – the Quran will never contradict itself, nor will the Sahih Hadith contradict itself… neither will these two authentic sources, contradict each other.

Point number five – ‘Sometimes the scholars differ, and many a times, these differences can be removed by analyzing the Quran as a whole, and not just by quoting one particular Verse’. Because if one particular verse of the Quran if its ambiguous many a times the answer is given somewhere else in the Quran – Some people quote one source and neglect all the other sources. And the last point is – ‘It is the duty of every Muslim, male or female, to seek the pleasure of Allah (SWT), and to act as His trustee on this world, and not to try and gain fame or satisfy one’s own ego.

Islam believes in equality of men and women – ‘Equality’ does not mean ‘Identicality’.

In Islam, the role of a man and woman… it is complimentary, it is not conflicting. It is that of a partnership – it is not contradictory, so as to strive for supremacy. Where ‘Women’s rights in Islam’ is concerned, I have divided into 6 broad categories. The first are ‘the Spiritual rights’, second are ‘the Economical rights’, third are ‘the Social rights’, fourth are ‘the Educational rights’, fifth are ‘the Legal rights’, and last are ‘the Political rights’.

Let us analyze ‘the Spiritual rights’ of women in Islam.

The greatest misconception that the West has about Islam, is that they think…‘Paradise in Islam, is only meant for the male – it is not meant for the female’. This misconception can be removed by quoting from Surah Nisa, Ch. No. 4, Verse No 124, which says:

‘If any of you do deeds of righteousness, whether it be male or a female and has faith, they shall surely enter Paradise and not the least injustice shall be done to them’. (Surah Nisa 4:124)

A similar thing is repeated in Surah Nahl, Ch.16, Verse No.97 which says: ‘If any of you perform good deeds, be it a man or a women and is a believer, We shall give you good life and We should reward you for all your good works’. (Surah Nahl 16:97)

Just because in Islam, sex is not the criteria to enter Paradise… will you call such rights in Islam as modernising or outdated?

Another misconception is that, which the Western media has, that… ‘The woman has no soul’. In fact, it was in the seventeenth century, when the Council of wise men… when they gathered at Rome, and they unanimously agreed that the woman had no soul. In Islam, man and woman have the same spiritual nature, and that is clarified by the Verse from Surah Nisa, Ch.4, Verse No.1.

‘O humankind reverence your guardian lord, who has created you from a single person and created like nature his mate’. (Surah Nisa 4:1)

A similar thing is mentioned in Surah Nahl, Ch.16, Verse No.72, which says: ‘We have made for you companions and mates of your own nature’. (Surah Nahl 16:72)

Again in Surah Al-Shura, Ch.42, Verse No.11, it says: ‘He is the one who has created the heavens and the earth and has made for you pairs from among yourselves’. (Surah Al-Shura 42:11)

Just because the spiritual nature of a man and woman is the same in Islam, will you call such rights in Islam, as modernizing or outdated?

The Quran clearly mentions that; ‘Allah (SWT) has breathed somewhat of His spirit into the human beings’. If you read Surah Hijr, Ch.15, Verse No.29, it says: ‘When I have fashioned you in due proportion and have breathed into you something of my spirit, fall ye down in  obeisance’. (Surah Hijr 15:29)

A similar thing is repeated in the Quran, in Surah Sajdah, Ch. 32, Verse No.9, which says: ‘We have fashioned you in due proportion and have breathed into you something of My spirit’. (Surah Sajdah 32:9)

Here, when Allah (SWT) refers to… ‘As something of My Spirit, is breathed into the human beings’, it does not mean, a sort of incarnation or a pantheistic form. It means that Allah has given to every human being something of His spiritual Nature, and the Knowledge of God Almighty, and coming closer towards Him. Here it refers to both Adam and Eve (may peace be upon them). Both were breathed something of Allah (SWT)’S Spirit. Again we read in the Quran, that Allah has appointed the human being as His vicegerent, as His trustee, as is mentioned in Surah Isra, Ch.17, Verse No.70, which says:

‘We have honoured the children of Adam and bestowed on them special favours’. (Surah Isra 17:70)

Here all the children of Adam have been honoured, male as well as female. There are some Religious scriptures, for example the Bible, which puts the blame on Eve for the downfall of humanity. In fact if you read the Quran in Surah Araf, Ch.7, Verse No.19 to 27, Adam and Eve (may peace be upon them both) are addressed, more than a dozen of times. Both disobeyed God, both asked for forgiveness, both repented, and both were forgiven.

In the Bible, if you read Genesis, Ch. 3, only Eve is held responsible (May peace be upon her) for the downfall of humanity. And according to the doctrine of ‘Original Sin’, because of Eve (may peace be upon her) the whole of humanity is born in sin. If you read the Bible in Genesis, Ch. 3, Verse No.16, it states that the God of ‘the Bible’ it is saying ‘Unto the woman you shall bear in conception and in sorrow shall you give birth and your desire shall be of your husband and he shall rule over you’. That means, pregnancy and child birth has been said in the Bible to degrade the women and the labour pain is a sort of punishment.

In fact if you read the Quran, pregnancy and child birth have uplifted the women. If you read Surah Nisa, Ch.4, Verse No.1, it says: ‘Respect the womb that bore you’. (Surah Nisa 4:1)

Its mentioned in Surah Luqman, Ch.31, Verse No.14, it says: ‘We have enjoined on the human being to be kind to the parents, in travail upon travail did their mother bore them and in years twain was their weaning’. (Surah Luqman 31:14)

A similar thing is mentioned in Surah Ahqaf, Ch.46, Verse No.15. It again repeats, which says: ‘We have enjoined on the human beings to be kind to his parents’. (Surah Ahqaf 46:15)

To be kind to the parents – ‘in pain did their mother bore them, and in pain did she give them birth’ – Pregnancy in the Quran has uplifted the women not degraded her. Just because pregnancy has uplifted the women in Islam will you call such rights in Islam as modernizing or outdated?

The only criteria for judgment in the sight of Allah is ‘Taqwa’, ‘God consciousness’ or ‘righteousness’.

It is  mentioned in Surah Hujurat, Ch.49, Verse No.13: ‘O humankind,  We have created you from a single pair of male and female and have divided you into nations and tribes, so that you shall recognize each other not that you despise each other and the most honored in the sight of Allah, is the one who is the most righteous’. Sex, colour, caste, wealth has got no criteria in Islam’. (Surah Hujurat 49:13)

The only criteria in the sight of Allah it is ‘Taqwa’, neither is sex the criteria for Allah (SWT) to reward or to punish a person.

If you read Surah Imran Ch.3 Verse No.195 it says: ‘I will never suffer the loss of any of you, be it male or female, you are companions unto each other’. (Surah Imran 3:195)

I had started my talk by quoting a verse from the Quran From  Surah Al-Ahzab, Ch.33, Verse No.35, which says:

‘Innal Muslimeena Was Muslimati’ – ‘For Muslim men and Muslim women’
‘Wal maomineena Wamomiminati’ – ‘For believing men and women’ 
‘Wa Kaniteena Wakantaati’ – ‘For devout men and women’ 
‘Wa Saadikeena Wasaadkaati’ – ‘For true men and women’. 
‘Wa Sabireena Wa Saabiraati’ – ‘For men and women who are patient and constant’. 
‘Wa Musaddikeena Wamusadikaati’ – ‘Or men and women who give in charity’.
‘Wa Saaeemeena Wasaaimaati’ – ‘For men and women who fast and deny themselves’.
‘Wal hafizeena Furoojaheen Wa hafizati’ – ‘For men and women who guard their chastity’ 
‘Wa Zaakireenallahu Kasuraon Wazaakiraati’ – ‘For men and women who engage much in Allah’s (SWTala’s) praise’
And the verse ends by ‘Aradallahu Wa magfirataon Wa Airframe Azeena’ – ‘That for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and ample of reward’.

This verse indicates that the spiritual duties, the moral duties, for the men and women in Islam are the same – Both have to believe, both have to pray, both have to fast, both have to give Zakat, etc, etc.

But the women has been given certain concession in Islam. If she is undergoing her menstrual period or pregnancy, she does not have to fast – She can keep those fasts later on, when she is more healthy. In fact, during the menstrual period and during the postnatal period, she need not pray also. She has been given the concession, and neither does she have to compensate it later on. Just because the moral duties of the men and women are equal in Islam will you call such rights in Islam as modernizing or outdated?

Let us analyze the Economical rights – Islam gave economical rights to the women 1,300 years before the West.

An adult Muslim woman can own, she can dispose or disown any of her property without consulting any one, irrespective whether she is married or she is single.

In 1870, it was the first time in England, that the West recognized the rights of the married woman, where she was allowed to own or dispose any of her property without consultation. I do agree that the women were given their economical rights 1300 years ago – these are ancient rights – but the question is – ‘are they modernizing or outdated?’

A women in Islam, if she wishes to work she can work – There is no text in the Quran or the authentic Hadith which prevents or makes it prohibited for a woman to do any work, as long as it is not unlawful, as long as it is within the preview of the Islamic Shariah, as long as she maintains her Islamic dress code. But natural, she cannot take up jobs, which exhibit her beauty and body. Like for example, modeling and film acting, and such kind of jobs. Many of the professions and jobs which are prohibited for the woman are also prohibited for the man, for example serving liquor. For example working in gambling dens – For example doing any unethical or dishonest business – All these jobs are prohibited for both men and women. A true Islamic society requires women to take up profession such as doctors. We do require female Gynecologists, We do require female nurses, We do require female teachers. But, a woman in Islam has got no financial obligations. The financial obligation is laid on the shoulders of the man in the family. Therefore she need not work for her livelihood. But in genuine cases, where there are financial crisis in which both the ends do not meet, she has the option of working. Here too, no one can force her to work. She works out of her own, absolute free will.

Besides the professions I mentioned, she can work in the house and take up tailoring, she can take up embroidery, she can do pottery, she can make baskets, etc. She is also allowed to work in factories and small scale industries, which has been designed exclusively for the ladies. She can work in places which have got separate sections- gents and ladies, because Islam does not agree with intermingling of the sex. She can also do business, and where it comes to doing transactions, where it involves interaction with a foreign male, with a Na-Mehram, she should do it through a father or a brother or husband or a son.

And the best example I can give you is of Bibi Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) who was the wife of our beloved Prophet (may peace be upon him). She was one of the most successful business women of her times and she did the transaction through her husband, Prophet Muhammed (May peace be upon him). A woman in Islam has been given more financial security, as compared to the man.

As I told you earlier, the financial obligation is not put on her shoulder. It is put on the shoulder of the man in the family. It is  the duty of the father or the brother, before she is married and the duty of the husband or the son, after she is married to look after her lodging, boarding, clothing and  financial aspects of her. When she gets married, she is on the receiving end. She receives a gift – she receives a dower or a marital gift, which is called as ‘Mahr’. And it is mentioned in the Quran in Surah Nisa, Ch.4 Verse No.4 which says: ‘Give to the woman in dower, a marital gift’. (Surah Nisa 4:4)

For a marriage to solemnize in Islam, ‘Mahr’ is compulsory. But unfortunately in our Muslim society here, we just keep a nominal ‘Mahr’ to satisfy the Quran, say 151 Rupees, or some people give 786 Rupees and they spend lakhs and lakhs of Rupees on the reception, on the decoration, on the flowers, on the lunch parties, on the dinner parties.

In Islam, there is no lower limit, nor is there  an upper limit for ‘Mahr’ – But when a  person can spend lakhs of Rupees on the reception, surely the ‘Mahr’ should be much more. There are various cultures which have crept into the Muslim societies. They give a small amount of ‘Mahr’ and they expect the wife to get a fridge, to get a T.V set, they expect the wife to give a flat, to get a car, etc., and a large sum of dowry, depending upon the status of the husband. If he is a graduate, they may expect 1 lakh – If he is an engineer they may expect 3 lakhs- If he is a doctor they may expect 5 lakhs.

Read about ‘Mahr’ in ISLAM…

Demanding dowry… a husband demanding dowry from the wife, directly or indirectly is prohibited in Islam. If the parents of the girl give the girl something out of their own free will, it is accepted – But demanding or forcing directly or indirectly, it is  prohibited in Islam. If a Woman works, which she does not have to – whatever earning she gets, it is absolutely her property. She need not spend a single paise on the household – if she wants to spend it is her free will. Irrespective how rich the wife is, it is the duty of the husband to give lodging, boarding, clothing and look after the financial aspects of the wife.

In case of divorce or if a wife gets widowed, she is given financial support for the period of ‘Iddah’ – and if she has children, she is also given child support. Islam gave the right to the women to inherit, centuries ago. If you read the Quran – in several verses, in Surah Nisa, in Surah Baqarah and in Surah Maidah, it is mentioned that a woman irrespective, she is a wife or she is a mother, or a sister, or a daughter, she has a right to inherit – And it has been fixed by Allah (SWT) in the Quran.


Let us go further and analyze the Social Rights of a women in Islam.

Broadly it can be categorized into four sub-headings: Social rights given to a daughter, to a wife, to a  mother and to a sister.

Coming to the social rights given in Islam, to a daughter – Islam prohibits, female infanticide – The killing of female children is forbidden in Islam. It is  mentioned  in Surah Taqveem, Ch. 81, Verse No. 8 and 9: ‘when the female child is buried alive and when she questions you, for what crime was she killed’. (Surah Taqveem 81:8-9)

Not only female infanticide has been prohibited, all sorts of infanticides has been prohibited in Islam, whether it be a male child or a female child.

It is  mention in the Quran in Surah A’nam Ch.6, Verse No.151 that: ‘Kill not your children for want of sustenance for it is Allah that will provide sustenance for you and for children’. (Surah A’nam 6:151)

A similar thing is mentioned in Surah Isra, Ch.17 Verse No.31 which says: ‘Kill not your children for want of sustenance, for it is Allah that will provide sustenance to you and your children, for killing of children is a major sin’. (Surah Isra 17:31)

In the pre-Islamic Arabia, whenever a female child was born mostly she was buried alive. Alhamdullillah, after the spread of Islam this evil practice has been discontinued.

But unfortunately it still continues in our country India. According to a BBC report, in the programme assignment the title of which was: ‘Let Her Die’, there was a British reporter by the name of Emily Beckenen, who came all the way from Britain to India to give us the  statistics of the female infanticide. This programe was shown a few years back on the star T.V. and Alhamdullillah, it is  being shown every month, and just a few days ago it was again re-telecast. In that programe, it gives the statistics, that every day more than 3,000 fetuses are being aborted on being identified that they are females. If you multiply this figure by the number of days, that is multiplied by 365, you get a figure of more than one million female fetuses are being aborted every year in our country. And there are big hoarding and posters in states like TamilNadu and Rajasthan, which says spend 500 Rupees and save 5 lakh Rupees. What does it mean? – That spend Rupees 500 on medical examination like Aminocententus or Ultra Sonography, and identify that the child the mother is carrying. If it is a female you can abort it and you’ll save 5 lakh Rupees – How? The couple of lakhs you spend on upbringing her and the remaining lakhs of Rupees you spend on giving dowry.

According to the report of the government hospital of Tamil Nadu – ‘out of every 10 female children that are born, four are put to death’ – No wonder the female population in India is less than the male population. Female infanticide was continuing in our country since centuries – If you analyze the statistics of the 1901 census, for every 1000 males there were 972 females. According to the 1981 statistics and census, it tells you for every 1000 males you have 934 females. And the latest statistics of 1991 tells you that for every 1000 males you have 927 females. You can analyze that the female ratio is dropping every year – And since science and medicine has advanced, it has helped in this evil practice.

Just because Islam tells you that you should not kill any children whether it be male or female will you call these rights in Islam as modernizing or outdated?

Islam not only prohibits killing of infant children, it also prohibits, and it rebukes you on rejoicing on the birth of a male child and you getting saddened on the news of a female child.

If you read Surah Nahl, Ch.16, Verse No.58 & 59, it tells you that: ‘when news is brought to one of them of a birth of a female child his face darkens and is filled with inward grief’. (Surah Nahl 16:58-59)

He hides himself in shame from his people because of the news he has received. Should he let her live in suffering or should he bury her in dust – Ah! what a evil choice they have. Quran not only prohibits female infanticide, it rebukes at the thought of you rejoicing at the birth of a male child and getting saddened at the birth of a female child. In Islam, a daughter should be brought up correctly and according to a Hadith in ‘Ahmed’, the Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: ‘Anyone who brings up two daughters properly, they will be like this to me on the day of judgment’ – Means, ‘will be very close to me on the day of judgment’.

And there’s another Hadith which says, that ‘Anyone who up brings 2 daughters properly and takes good care and brings them up with love and affection, they will enter Paradise’.

In Islam, there should be no partiality in upbringing of the daughters or the son. According to a Hadith, of our beloved Prophet it said that, ‘In the presence of the Prophet, once a man kissed his son and placed him on his lap but did not do the same to his daughter. The Prophet immediately objected and said that you are unjust – You should have even kissed your daughter and placed her on the other lap’.

Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him) did not only speak about justice, he also practiced it.

Let us analyze, the rights of a wife in Islam.

All the previous civilizations, they have considered the women to be an ‘instrument of the devil’. The Quran refers to the women as ‘Mohsana’, that is a ‘fortress against the devil’. And if a woman, who is good, marries a man, she prevents him from going on the wrong path and keeps him on the ‘Siratulmustakeem’ – that is the correct path. There’s a Hadith in which Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him) said that:  ‘there is no monasticism in Islam’.

And again according to Sahih Bukhari, Volume No. 7, Ch. No. 3 Hadith No 4 it says that: “the Prophet ordained the young men, all those who have the means to marry, they should marry – For it will help them to lower their gaze and guard their modesty.”

There is another Hadith related by  Anas, in which the Prophet said: ‘Any one who marries completes half his deen’.

Once somebody asked me, that; ‘does it imply that if I marry twice I will be completing my full deen?’ The person misunderstood the message of the Prophet.

When the Prophet said that: ‘When you marry you complete half your deen’ – It means that when you marry it shields you from promiscuity, it shields  you from fornication, it shields you from homosexuality, which lead to half the sin in this world. Only when  you marry, do you have  opportunity to become husband or a wife – Only when you marry do you have opportunity to become a father or a mother. And the duties of the mother and the father and that of a husband and wife are very important in Islam. So it makes no difference whether a man marries once twice or thrice or four times – He yet completes only half his deen.

The Quran says that: ‘We have put love into the hearts of the husband and wife’.
If you read Surah Rum, Ch. 30, Verse No. 21 it says that: ‘And amongst our signs We have created for  you mates or companions, so that you may dwell in them in tranquillity and we have put love and mercy between your hearts’. (Surah Rum 30:21)

According to Surah Nisa, Ch.4, Verse No.21, marriage is considered as a misaq, a sacred  agreement, a sacred contract.

According to Surah Nisa, Ch.4, Verse No.19, it says: ‘You are prohibited to inherit women against their will’ – Means, to marry, the permission of both the parties are required. (Surah Nisa 4:19)

It is compulsory that the man and women both should agree to marry. No one – not even the father can force their daughter to marry against her wishes.

There’s a Hadith in Sahih Bukhari, Volume No. 7, Ch. No. 43, Hadith No. 69, which says ‘that a lady she was forced by her father to marry against her wishes’ – And she went to the Prophet and the Prophet invalidated the marriage’. Another Hadith in Ibn-e-Humbal, Hadith No. 2469, it says ‘that a daughter was forced by her father to get married – And when the daughter approached the Prophet, the Prophet said you can either continue, or if you wish you can invalidate the marriage.’

That means, the consent of both the male and the female is required. In Islam, a women is considered as a homemaker –  if they are occupied more in the home. In Islam, a woman, she is not married to a master that she should be treated like a slave – She is married to and is equal.

And there is a Hadith which says in Ibn-Hambal – Hadith No 736, 7396: – It says that: ‘the most perfect of the believers are those that are best in character and behavior, and those that are best to their family and their wives’. Islam gives equal rights to the man and woman. The Quran clearly mentions that men and women, husband and wife have equal rights in all aspects, except leadership in the family.

It is mentioned in the Quran in Surah Baqarah Ch.2, Verse No.228: ‘the women  have been given rights similar against them on equitable terms but the men have a degree higher’. (Surah Baqarah 2:228)

Most of the Muslims have misunderstood this verse, when it says ‘a men have a degree higher’ – As I said we should analyze the Quran as a whole. And its  mentioned in Surah Nisa, Ch. 4, Verse No.34 which says: ‘The men are the protectors and maintainers of the women, for Allah (SWT) has given one of them more strength than the other and they give them their means’. (Surah Nisa 4:34)

People say the word ‘Kawwam’ means, ‘one degree higher in superiority’ – But actually the word ‘Kawwam’ comes from the root word ‘Ikamah’. ‘Ikamah’ means for example ‘when you give the Ikamah before prayers – You stand up’. So ‘Ikamah’ means to standupso the word ‘Kawwam’ means one degree higher in responsibility, not one degree higher in superiority.

Even if you read the commentary of ‘Ibne-Kathir’ – He says that the word ‘Kawwam’ means one degree higher in responsibility, not one degree higher in superiority. And this responsibility, should be carried out by mutual consent of both husband and wife. It is  mentioned in Surah Baqarah, Ch.2, Verse No.187, which says: ‘Your wives are your garments, and you are their garments’. (Surah Baqarah 2:187)

What’s the objective of garments – It is  used to conceal and to beautify. The husband and wife, should conceal each others faults, and they should beautify each other. Its a relationship of hands and gloves. The Quran mentions that: ‘even if you  do not like your wife, you should treat her kindly’.

It is  mentioned in Surah Nisa, Ch.4, Verse No.19, that: ‘Treat your wives on a footing of equity and kindness even if you dislike her – For you may be disliking a thing for which Allah has made good for you’. (Surah 4:19)

Even if you dislike your wife you have to treat her kindly and with equity. Just because the rights of a wife are equal to those of the husband in Islam, will you call such rights in Islam as modernizing or outdated?

Let us analyze the rights of a Mother.

The only thing above respect to Mother, is the worship of Allah (SWT) – It is mentioned in Ch.17, Verse No.28-29, it says that:

‘Allah has ordained for you, that you worship none but Him, and to be kind to our parents And if any one or both of them reach old age do not say a word of contempt or repel them but address them with honour, and speak to them with kindness, and lower your wing of humility and pray to Allah (SWT) -‘My Lord, bless them as they have cherished me in childhood’. (Surah Isra 17:28-29)

Surah Nisa, Ch. No. 4, Verse No.1 says: ‘Respect the womb that bore you’. (Surah Nisa 4:1)

Surah A’nam, Ch.6, Verse No.151, says: ‘You have to be kind to your parents’. (Surah A’nam 6:151)

Again in Surah Luqman Ch.31, Verse No.14; it again says the same thing that: ‘We have enjoined on the human beings to be kind to his parents. In travail upon travail, did their mother bore them and in years twain was their weaning’. (Surah Luqman 31:14)

A similar thing is repeated again in Surah Ahqaf, Ch.46, Verse No.15: ‘We have enjoined on the human beings to be kind to his parents. In pain did their mother bore them and in pain did she give them birth’. (Surah Ahqaf 46:15)

According to a Hadith related in ‘Ahmed’, as well as in ‘Ibn-e-Majah’ – It says ‘Paradise lies at the feet of the mother’.

That  does not mean that if my mother is walking on the road and if she steps on muck and filth – that thing becomes Paradise. It means that after you fulfill your basic duties, if you respect your mother, if you are kind to your mother, If you are honorable to your mother, you will Inshaallah enter Paradise.

Another Hadith related in Sahih Bukhari in Volume 8, Ch. No. 2 Hadith No. 2, as well as in Sahih-Muslim – It says that a man asked the Prophet: ‘Who requires the maximum love and respect and my companionship in this world? The Prophet replied – ‘your mother’. ‘Who is next’? – ‘your mother’. ‘Who is next?’ – ‘your mother’. The man asked for the fourth time, – ‘Who is next’. The Prophet replied ‘your father’. 75% of the love and respect goes to the mother and 25% of the love and respect goes to the father. Three fourth of the better part of the love and respect goes to the mother – One fourth of the remaining part of the love and respect goes to the father. In short, the gold medal goes to the mother, the silver medal goes to the mother, the bronze medal goes to the mother and the father may be he gets the consolation prize.

I am very happy that my brothers have appreciated it – Otherwise  normally I always apologize, that if I have hurt the feelings of my brothers, I am sorry – That is  what Islam tells me. But, I’m glad, that my brothers here, they have appreciated Islam, Al-hamdullillah.

Let us analyze the rights of the sisters in Islam.

According to Surah Taubah, Ch. 9, Verse No.71, it says: ‘The men and the women they are maintainers and supporters of each other’. (Surah Taubah 9:71)

The word ‘Auliya’ here means ‘supporters’ and ‘maintainers’ – they are supporters and maintainers of each other. In short they are brothers and sisters unto each other, unless otherwise.

Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him) he said, ‘The women are the ‘Shakat’ -‘Shakat’ means sister’. It also means ‘half’, as humankind has been divided into two halves – men and women – It refers to as ‘half’, also as ‘sisters’. There are so many social rights that we can, that we can speak for weeks together.

But due to short of time, I will not be able to touch on the important topics such as Polygamy, such as divorce, such as Talaq, divorce, because I have opted to spend more time on the other topics.

Now let us analyze the Educational rights given to the women in Islam.

The first 5 verses which were revealed of the Quran Shareef were from Surah Alaq, or Surah Iqra, Ch. 96, Verse No. 1 to 5 which says: ‘Read, recite or proclaim in the name of thy lord, Who has created the human beings from a congealed  clot of blood, a leech like substance – Read, thy Lord is most bountiful – Who has taught the use of the pen – Who has taught the human beings that which he knew-not’.

The first guidance given in the Quran Shareef to the humankind was not to pray, was not to fast, was not to give charity – It was read – Islam pays utmost importance to education.

The Prophet ordained the parents, the father and the mother, to see to it that they gave Religious education to their daughter and after a lady married, it was the duty of the husband to provide her with the Religious education. If he couldn’t do it himself, and if she wanted, he should allow her to go somewhere else to acquire the education.

According to Sahih Bukhari, the women were very enthusiastic to acquire knowledge, and they once told the Prophet: ‘You are usually surrounded by men – why do not you give us one particular day so that we too can ask you questions’ – And the Prophet agreed. Besides he himself going, he sent many other of his Sahabas to the women, to give them education. Imagine, 1400 years ago, when the women were ill treated and were only used as chattels – leave aside being educated, Islam asked the women to be educated. We have examples of several Muslim women who are scholars and the best example I can give you is of Bibi Aisha’ (may Allah be pleased with her), who was the daughter of Hazrat Abu-Bakr, the first Khalifa of Islam, (may Allah be pleased with him), and the wife of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him). She gave guidance even to the Sahabas and to the Khalifas. One of  her famous student Urwah-Ibn-Zubair – She said that: ‘I have not seen a greater scholar than Aisha’ in the field of learning of the Quran, in obligatory duties, in lawful and unlawful matters, in literature and poetry, in Arab history.

She was not only expert in the Religious field, she had profound knowledge of medicine – Whenever the foreign delegates came to the Prophet and discussed, she used to memorize the remedies. She was well versed in the field of math, and many times the companions came to her to ask problems of ‘Mirath’ that is, ‘Inheritance’ – And how much share could be divide how much share should be given to the each individual. She is said to have guided all the four Khalifas, including the companions.

And she also gave guidance, many a times to Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) and she herself has narrated 2210 Hadiths. According to AbuUmm… according to Abu Moosa, who was a famous Jurist, he said that; ‘Whenever we companions had lack of knowledge on a matter, we went to Hazrat Aisha’ (May Allah be pleased with her), and definitely she had knowledge about it’. She is said to have taught more than 88 scholars. In short, she was a scholar of the scholars.

There are several examples, even of Safiya (may Allah be pleased with her) who was the wife of the Prophet, who was an expert on Fiqah Islamic Jurisprudence. And according to Imam-an-Nauvi, ‘She was the most intellectual women of that time’.

Another example is Umme – Salma (may Allah be pleased with her) who was the wife of the beloved Prophet. According to Ibn Hajar, ‘She has taught 32 different scholars’.

There are several examples – Fatima-Binte-Kais, she is said to have a discussion on Fiqh, for a full day with Hazrat Aisha’ and Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both), and still they could not prove her wrong. According to Imam-an-Nauvi, ‘she migrated in the early days and she had profound knowledge’. Other examples like Umme Salim, who was the mother of Anas – she is said to be very well versed in the field of Dawah. Other examples are Saeeda Nafisa, who was the grand daughter of Hasan and she also said to have taught Imam Shafi, who was the founder of the one of schools of thought.

There are several examples – Even Umme-Ad-darda, who was the wife of Abul-Ad-darda, she is said be an expert in science. And even Imam Bukhari has said that she was an expert in her field – You can give several examples. At the time when the women were ill treated, at the time when  women were buried alive, when they were born, at that time Islam had women scholars, in the field of medicine, in the field of science, in the field of Religion. Because Islam tells that every woman should be educated, – Will you call such women’s right’s in Islam as modernizing or oudated?

Let us discuss the legal rights given to a woman in Islam.

According to the Islamic law, men and women are equal – The Shariah protects the life and property of a man and woman both. If a man murders a woman he too will receive the ‘Hurth’ punishment – That is Capital punishment of ‘Kisas’. According to Surah Baqarah Ch. 2, Verse No.178 and 179, ‘he too shall be killed’.

Like wise if a woman murders, she too will be killed. According to the Islamic law of ‘Kisas’, men and women – irrespective  the injury be of the eye, of the nose, of the ear, of the body – both receive equal punishment and if the guardian of the murderer, even it be a woman – If she says, that forgive the murderer and she accepts ‘Dia’, that is compensation – her opinion cannot be rejected – They have to accept it.

And if there’s difference of opinion between the relatives of the person who is murdered – And some say that the murderer should be killed and some say that he should be forgiven and ‘Dia’ should be accepted – people should prevent the relatives from killing that murderer. And irrespective whether the witness or the opinion is given by a man or woman, it has same weight.

According to Surah Maida, Ch.5, Verse No.30 – It says: ‘As to the thief, whether he be man or a woman, cut off his or her hand as a punishment for his crime, an example from Allah (SWT)’. (Surah Maida 5:30)

Means, if a person robs, irrespective whether he is a man or a woman his or her hands should be chopped – The punishment is the same. According to Surah Nur, Ch.24, Verse No.2, it says:

‘If any commits fornication, be it a man or a woman, flog them with 100 stripes’. (Surah Nur 24:2)

The punishment for fornication in Islam irrespective whether it is a man or a woman, it is the same – Flogging with 100 stripes. The punishment for men and women, is the same in Islam.

In Islam a woman is allowed to give witness. Imagine, Islam gave right to a woman to be a witness, 14 centuries ago. Even now in as late as 1980, the Jewish  Rabai, they were considering that whether the women should be given a right to act as a witness or not – and Islam gave that right 1400 years ago.

According to Surah Nur, Ch.24, Verse No.4, it is said: ‘If any of you put a charge against the chastity of a woman, produce 4 witnesses, and if they falter, flog them with 80 stripes’. (Surah Nur 24:4)

In Islam for a small crime, you require 2 witness – for a big crime you require 4 witnesses. Accusing a woman falsely is a big crime in Islam, therefore you require 4 witnesses.

Now a days you see in the modern society, you find men abusing women and calling them all sorts of name. They call them prostitutes etc, and what nothing is done.

In a Islamic State, if a man calls her a ‘prostitute’ in public or anywhere else, and if she takes that man to court – and if that man cannot produce 4 witnesses or even if he produces 4 witnesses and anyone of them falter, all of them will receive 80 lashes each, and in future all their evidence will be rejected. Islam gives utmost importance to the chastity of the woman. When a lady marries, she normally adopts the name of her husband. In Islam she has the option of either keeping her husband’s name, either adopting the name of the husband, or maintaining her maiden name. And maintaining the maiden name is recommended in Islam – And we find in several Muslim societies that women, even after they get married they aintain their maiden name, because according to the Islamic law men and women are equal. Will you call such rights in Islam modernizing or oudated?

Let us analyze the political rights.

According to Surah Tauba, Ch.9, Verse No.71, which I quoted earlier, which says: ‘The men and the women they are supporters of each other’. (Surah Tauba 9:71)

Supporters not only Socially – even Politically – Politically, men and women should support each other. Islam gives women the right to vote. If you read Surah Al-Mumtahina, Ch.60, Verse No.12, it says that: ‘O Prophet when the believing women come to thee with an oath of fealty’. (Surah Al-Mumtahina 60:12)

Here, the Arabic word is ‘Bayan’ – And ‘Bayan’ means much more than our modern, present day election, – because Prophet Muhammed (may peace be upon him), he was not only the messenger of Allah, but he was also the head of the state and women came to the Prophet and they agreed with him being the head of the state.

So Islam gives the woman even the right to vote. Women can even take part in law making. And according to the famous Hadith in which Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), he was discussing with the Sahabas, and considering putting an upper limit on the ‘Mahr’, since young men were discouraged from getting married – a lady from the back seat she objected and said When the Quran says in Surah Nisa Ch.4, Verse No.20 that:

‘you can even give a heap of treasure, a heap of gold in ‘Mahr’, when Quran puts no limit on ‘Mahr’, who is Umar to put a limit (may Allah be pleased with him) and immediately Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) he said; ‘Umar is wrong and the lady is right’.

Imagine, she was a common lady – If it would  have been a famous lady, the name of the lady would be mentioned in the Hadith. Since the Hadith does not mention the name of the lady, we can understand that the lady was a common lady. Means, even a common lady can object to the ‘Khalifa’, the head of the state. And in technical terms it would be called that – ‘she is objecting to the breach of the constitution’. That means a woman can even take part in law making.

Women have even taken part in the battle field. There is a full chapter in the Sahih Bukhari mentioning women in the battle field – Women gave water – they give first aid to the soldiers and there is a particular mention of a woman by the name of Nasiba, who were among the few, who protected our beloved Prophet during the battle of Ohud. Because the Quran says ‘Man is the protector of the ‘Woman’, under normal circumstances, the women should not go to the battle field. It is  the duty of the man. Only when required, under necessity are women allowed – and they should go to the battle field – Otherwise no. Otherwise you’ll have the same position as you are having in the USA.

There women were allowed to join the battle since 1901 but they were not allowed to take active part – they only played the part of a nurse. Later on after the ‘Feminist Movement’ had started in 1973, the ‘Feminist movement’ demanded – ‘Why aren’t women allowed to take active part in the battle field?’ So the American government allowed – After 1976 women, were allowed to take active part in the battle field. And last year according to a report of the defense department, of the defense department of America, which was  released on the 23rd of April, 1993 it said that – ‘90 people were sexually assaulted in a convention, out of which 83 were women and 117 officers were charged with in disciplinary action’. Imagine in one convention only, 83 women sexually assaulted. What was the crime of those 117 officers?

They made the women run and they snatched at their clothes – They made them parade absolutely nude without even covering the genital parts – They were made to have sex in public. Is this what you call ‘Women’s rights’? If you think that this is what is ‘Women’s right’, then you can keep your rights to yourselves. We do not want our sisters, our daughters our mothers to be sexually assaulted. And there was a uproar in the parliament and the President, Bill Clinton – he himself had to publicly apologize and he said; ‘Necessary action will be taken’. And you know when politicians say ‘necessary action will be taken, what happens.

So Islam allows women to take part in the battle field only when required. But there also they should maintain their Islamic Hijab and the Islamic ethics, and their modesty.

Before I conclude my talk, I’d like to give an example. As I said in the beginning of my talk, Islam believes in equality between men and women – Equality does not mean identicality. Suppose in a classroom 2 students, student ‘A’ and ‘B’, during an examination both come out first – Both secure 80% marks – 80 out of 100. Out of the hundreds of students, 2 come out first ‘A’ and ‘B’. When you analyze the question paper, the question paper has 10 different questions, each carrying 10 marks.

In question 1 student ‘A’ got 9 out of 10, and student ‘B’ got 7 out of 10 – So in question 1 student ‘A’ was higher than student ‘B’. In question 2, student ‘A’ got 7 out of 10 and student ‘B’ got 9 out of 10; – Student ‘B’ was higher than student ‘A’ in question number 2. In question 3 both of them got 8 out of 10, both were equal. So when we add up the marks of all the ten questions, both student ‘A’ and ‘B’ got 80 out of 100. So in short, student ‘A’ and student ‘B’ are over all equal. In some question ‘A’ is higher than ‘B’, in some question ‘B’ is higher than ‘A’, in others both are equal.

In the same fashion, taking the example that since Allah has given man more strength – Suppose a thief enters the house; will you tell, ‘I believe in women’s rights – I believe in women’s rights’ – will you tell your mother, your sister and your daughter, to go and fight the thief?’

No, but natural you’ll fight him – If required they may interfere – under normal circumstances since Allah has given you more physical strength, you have to go and tackle the thief. So here, in physical strength, man is one degree higher than the woman.

Let us take another example where… where it comes to giving respect to the – where it comes to respecting the parents – The children are supposed to respect the mother 3 times more than the father. Here the women have one degree higher than the men – Over all both equal.

So Islam believes in equality, not identically – Men and women are over all equal in Islam.

‘This was in brief, not in detail’. This was in brief, the highlights, of ‘the Women’s Rights in Islam’. After this what the Muslim society did is different – Many of the Muslim societies did not give the women their rights and they deviated away from the Quran and the Sunnah. The Western society is largely responsible for this – because of the Western societies, many Muslim societies have become over protective, over precautions and have gone to one extreme and deviated away from the Quran and the Sunnah.

On the other extreme, some of the Muslim societies upgrade with the Western culture, and followed their culture. I want to tell the Western society that if you analyze the women’s rights in Islam according to the Quran and the Sunnah – you will realize it is  modernizing and not outdated.

Lastly, I would like to thank those people who have helped and supported me. If there is any one person who requires credit for me being here, it is my beloved mother Mrs. Roshan Naik – It was because of her love, care and guidance that I am here today. I will be doing injustice if I do not include the name of my father Dr. Abdul Karim Naik, as well as my other family members, specially, my Brother Mohammed Naik. And last, but not the least my wife, who has encouraged me since one and a quarter year, since we have been married and thus I have been able to strive harder in this field.

Wa-aakhirudda-waana Anilhamdulillahi Rabbil Aalamin

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