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Equality of Men and Women

The Quran makes it clear that Women and Men are equal in the eyes of God

One of the most misunderstood areas in Islam is that of the position of women in the religion. The general perception in the West is that Muslim women are subjugated and almost seen as property. While not all Muslims deal with women as inferior, this is unfortunately true in some segments of the Muslim world and this treatment is supposedly justified by the religion. However, when we look at the basis of the religion, the Quran, we see a very different picture. In the Quran God makes it very clear that men and women are equal.

[3:195] Their Lord responded to them: "I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female - you are equal to one another. Thus, those who immigrate, and get evicted from their homes, and are persecuted because of Me, and fight and get killed, I will surely remit their sins and admit them into gardens with flowing streams." Such is the reward from GOD. GOD possesses the ultimate reward.

[4:124] As for those who lead a righteous life, male or female, while believing, they enter Paradise; without the slightest injustice.

Guaranteed Happiness Now and Forever

[16:97] Anyone who works righteousness, male or female, while believing, we will surely grant them a happy life in this world, and we will surely pay them their full recompense (on the Day of Judgment) for their righteous works.

Equality of Men and Women

[33:35] The submitting men, the submitting women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient women, the truthful men, the truthful women, the steadfast men, the steadfast women, the reverent men, the reverent women, the charitable men, the charitable women, the fasting men, the fasting women, the chaste men, the chaste women, and the men who commemorate GOD frequently, and the commemorating women; GOD has prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense.

[40:40] Whoever commits a sin is requited for just that, and whoever works righteousness - male or female - while believing, these will enter Paradise wherein they receive provisions without any limits.

The Only Criterion For Distinguishing Among The People

[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.

How is it that such clear verses can be ignored? Why are women treated so poorly in some Muslim communities? The answer lies in the fact that those communities take other sources besides the Quran as the basis of their religion. There are many Hadith that denigrate women. Also the pre-Islamic cultures of much of the Muslim world did not value women and had little use for them. The following verses demonstrate this fact:

When one of them gets a baby girl, his face becomes darkened with overwhelming grief. Ashamed, he hides from the people, because of the bad news given to him. He even ponders: should he keep the baby grudgingly, or bury her in the dust. Miserable indeed is their judgment.(16:58-59)

When one of them is given news (of a daughter) as they claimed for the Most Gracious, his face is darkened with misery and anger! (They say,) "What is good about an offspring that is brought up to be beautiful, and cannot help in war?" (43:17-18)

Such attitudes can still be seen among some Muslims. Contrast this with the attitude and practice of the prophet Muhammad himself as demonstrated by his willingness to debate with a woman about her husband:

GOD has heard the woman who debated with you about her husband, and complained to GOD. GOD heard everything the two of you discussed. GOD is Hearer, Seer. (58:1)

One does not debate with someone who is inferior, you simply tell him or her what to do. Muhammad also spoke with his wives as equals, though they were not always worthy of his trust:

The prophet had trusted some of his wives with a certain statement, then one of them spread it, and GOD let him know about it. He then informed his wife of part of the issue, and disregarded part. She asked him, "Who informed you of this?" He said, "I was informed by the Omniscient, Most Cognizant." (66:3)

It is clear from these verses that Muhammad dealt with women equitably, in spite of the culture that surrounded him. Thus, in his own life he demonstrated the equality of men and women just as he preached it from the Quran.

As culture affects the way women are perceived and treated in Muslim communities, it affects things in the Western world. It is significant that in the Bible God is referred to with the masculine pronoun and called Father. No wonder that in the West God is thought of as being masculine. This is not the case in the Quran, however. God is without gender in the Quran. Why should God have a gender when all He needs do is say “Be” and it is?

In Appendix Four of his translation Quran: The Final Testament, Dr. Rashad Khalifa indicates that perhaps one of the reasons God chose to reveal the Quran in Arabic is the very fact that “he” and “she” do not necessarily imply natural gender. This is similar to the use of pronouns in Spanish. Thus, though the masculine pronoun may be used to refer to the sun in Spanish as el sol, that in no way makes the sun a male. This same principle is true in Arabic.

And there is another more dramatic example of how the Quran demonstrates women’s equality in contrast to Biblical tradition. In the Quran it is clear that Adam and Eve are equally guilty for listening to Satan. The fall of mankind from the Garden of Eden is not blamed on Eve. This is shown more than once in the Quran (2:34-36, 7:19-22, 7:27). Here is just one example:

The devil whispered to them, in order to reveal their bodies, which were invisible to them. He said, "Your Lord did not forbid you from this tree, except to prevent you from becoming angels, and from attaining eternal existence." He swore to them, "I am giving you good advice." He thus duped them with lies. As soon as they tasted the tree, their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Their Lord called upon them: "Did I not enjoin you from that tree, and warn you that the devil is your most ardent enemy?" (7:20-22)

Throughout these verses, God refers to both Adam and Eve as being tempted by and giving in to Satan. Thus we see that God makes it clear that men and women are equal. He directly tells us in verses, He shows us in examples from the Quran of His prophet, and He counteracts the cultural bias of language and tradition. For those who read the Quran there is no excuse—men and women are equal.


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