Women and Islam

Women and Islam

In the spirit of wanting to inform myself about issues regarding Islam, Islamism as well as the position of women in Islam, I posed a question to Professor Mohammed Dajani Daoudi (see also my blog 541):


"What is the position and the treatment of women in Islam? Are women in Islam subjugated, forced into a submissive role and often subjected to humiliation, such as genital mutilation?"

The short answer to that question is:


"... This practice - female genital mutilation (FGM) - prevalent in some Muslim and non-Muslim societies, is part of  social tradition and not the religious faith. It is not mentioned at all in the Quran and not a single verse calls for it. It is not required of Muslims to follow it ..."


The long answer I found intriguing and I can say now that I probably have read more samples of Islamic scripture than any other (except Buddhist teachings). My interest in all this is the idea of Comparative Religionand 'Interfaith'. As some readers may know, I do not follow a religion, my concepts of God cannot be aligned with mainstream religions, due to their dogmas. Hence I sympathize with the ideas and principles of Buddhism, where I feel no static scriptures or dogmas limit my thinking ... the point for me is, I view Buddhism not as a religion, but a philosophy.

(I write extensively on these subjects in my book with no title,

instead three definitions for the term  en.light.en.ment)

Having said that, I am absolutely fascinated by religions … particularly their social and civic qualities, hence this inquiry. The point here is this: If we allow ourselves opinions on (any issue, but in our case ...) Islam, where do we turn for information? The internet? Our politicians? The press, print & tv ... indeed radio shock-jocks? Maybe it behoves us to go to the source.


I invite you to join me on this journey; so for a long answer to my query, here is Professor Mohammed Dajani, whom I deem eminently qualified to respond:



"To start with, the Quran views women as of equal status to men as the following verses affirm:


{“It is He who created you from one soul and created from it its mate that he might dwell in security with her. And when he covers her, she carries a light burden and continues therein. And when it becomes heavy, they both invoke Allah , their Lord, "If You should give us a good [child], we will surely be among the grateful."”} (7:189)


{"And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy. Lo, herein indeed are signs for people who reflect."} [30:21]


{"...So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another..."} [3:195]

{"O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them a multitude of men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.”} (4:1)


[He is] Creator of the heavens and the earth. He has made for you from yourselves, mates, and among the cattle, mates; He multiplies you thereby." [42:11]


{"Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to their actions."} [Quran 4:124]



"Islam abolished the practice of female infanticide prevalent during the seventh century in pagan tribal communities and discrimination against female babies.


{“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.”} (17:31)


{“And when one of them is informed of [the birth of] a female, his face becomes dark, and he suppresses grief. He hides himself from the people because of the ill of which he has been informed. Should he keep it in humiliation or bury it in the ground? Unquestionably, evil is what they decide.”} (16:58-59)




"Islam restricted the practice of polygamy which was widespread during that time and sanctioned by other religions.

{“And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice].”} (4:3)

{“And you will never be able to be equal [in feeling] between wives, even if you should strive [to do so]. So do not incline completely [toward one] and leave another hanging. And if you amend [your affairs] and fear Allah - then indeed, Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.”} (4:129)




"Islam limited the absolute rights exercised by men over women, and gave women both spiritual and material equality with men. It conferred upon the Muslim wife property rights and legal status exactly the same as that of her husband. It gave the wife the freedom to dispose and manage her assets as she pleases without any guardianship by her husband or father.

{“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.”} (16:97)


{“Divorced women remain in waiting for three periods, and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allah has created in their wombs if they believe in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have more right to take them back in this [period] if they want reconciliation. And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”}(2:228)




"Islam allowed Muslim women to inherit a share of the property of their husbands, parents, and kinsfolk which was not practiced at the time.

{“For men (of a family) belongth a share of what her parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much – a legal (an obligatory share).”} (4:7)



"In his Hadith, Prophet Muhammad said the following of women:


419: “Women are the twin-halves of men.”

420: “The world and all things in it are valuable; but the most valuable thing in the world is a virtuous women.”

425. “Whoever doeth good to girls, it will be a curtain to him from hell-fire.”

428. “Whoever hath a daughter, and doth not bury her alive, or scold her, or prefer his male children to her, may God bring him into Paradise.” [Ibn Hanbal, No. 1957]

429. “Shall I not point out to you the best of virtues? It is your doing good to your daughter when she is returned to you having been divorced by her husband.”

430. “God enjoins you to treat women well, for they are your mothers, sisters, daughters, and aunts.”

431. “The rights of women are sacred. See that women are maintained in the rights assigned to them.”


{Quotations Source: Allama Sir Abdullah and Al-Mamun Al-Suhrawardy, with a forward from Mahatma Gandhi, The Sayings of Muhammad (Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1999. Originally published in London in 1941), pp. 116-118.



“A man came to Prophet Muhammad asking: “O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company?” The Prophet responded, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who else?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who else?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked, “Then who else?” Only then did the Prophet say, “Your father.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

A famous saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is: "Paradise is at the feet of mothers." [In An-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, Ahmad]

During the Caliphate of 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and he declared in the presence of the worshippers: "A woman is right and 'Umar is wrong."



"As for female genital mutilation (FGM) also referred to at times as female circumcision or female genital cutting of the clitoris of girls practiced by many societies in order to curb their sexual desire and preserve their virginity until marriage. A similar idea in Europe was the Chastity Belt. This practice, prevalent in some Muslim and non-Muslim societies, is part of social tradition and not the religious faith. It is not mentioned at all in the Quran and not a single verse call for it. it is not required of Muslims to follow it. The practice prevail in African countries such as Somalia and Egypt where actually also the Christian Copts practice it. However, most Islamic communities such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria , Lebanon, Palestine never practiced it.

"Islam as well as Christianity and Judaism have restored to women their just rights. However, if these rights have been usurped in the name of religion it does not mean that one should attribute such practices to the teachings of God but to the practice of man."


Professor Mohammed S. Dajani Daoudi