Is it true that Islam treats the Muslim woman unjustly and deprives her of her rights?
Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq
Dr. Kamal Boraiqa Abdelsalam Hassan
Al-Azhar Magazine (Ramadan, 1442 A.H. March/April, 2021.)
1- Women in the Pre-Islamic era lived in servility and misery. They had no rights whatsoever until the advent of Islam, which liberated them an delivered them from the injustice which they had suffered for a long time. Islam elevated the status of women and granted them all the rights of which they had hitherto been deprived and granted them the right accorded to men. It is interesting to note that the rights granted to women by Islam more than fourteen centuries ago are the very same rights granted to women by the United Nations in the 1948 Declaration of human Rights.
Islam also proved Eve's innocence of tempting Adam to disobey God's Command, and of being the cause of his banishment from Paradise. Islam also refuted the myth that Eve was the origin of evil in the world, stating that it was Satan who tempted both Adam and Eve. This is stated in the following Qur'anic verse: “But Satan made them slip, and removed them from the state they were in” (Al-Baqarah: 36).
2- Islam emphasizes the fact that all mankind, men and women alike, were created from one single soul: "O mankind! be mindful of your Lord, who created you from a single soul" (An-Nisaa: 1). This Qur'anic verse signifies that men and women are both equal as human beings, and in this respect one is not superior to the other. Furthermore, the honour that God has bestowed on mankind includes both men and women as is clear from the following Qur'anic verse: “We have honoured the children of Adam”(Al-Isra`:70). The descendants of Adam signify all mankind, and when the Qur'an refers to mankind, both men and women are addressed since when the Qur'an addresses one sex and not the other it addresses them as "O men!" (male) or "O women!".
3- The Prophet Muhammad described the relationship between men and women in the following Saying: "Women are the counterpart of men and they have the same rights as they have obligations in equity". The word "counterpart" indicates equality and that men and women are equal in God's sight and none is superior to the other except by virtue of their righteous deeds and piety. This is stated in the following Qur'anic verse: “To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions”(An-Nahl: 97). God Almighty also responds to the prayers and invocations of men and women alike: “Their Lord has answered them: ‘I will not allow the deeds of any one of you to be lost, whether you are male or female, each is like the other [in rewards]" (Al-Imran: 195). This means that men and women complement each other and that there would be no continuation of life in this world without their union.
4- After having read the aforementioned facts which are quoted from the two authentic sources of Islam, namely the Qur'an and the Prophetic Traditions, can Islam still be accused of ill-treating and wronging women? The problem is that some people unjustly misrepresent or confuse the difference between the principles and teachings of Islam, which are just and humane, and the conduct of some Muslims who treat women unjustly. Any objective and unbiased judgment of Islam should differentiate between the two cases. The degraded status of women in some Muslim
communities is due to the ignorance that prevails and is not the result of the teachings or principles of Islam. We find in the national survey of the United States 1 that at least one in four women is physically assaulted by her male partner every year and that about 10% of abused women are
victims of severe violence. In the Emergency Department Settings it is estimated that 20-35% of women patients seek treatment because of abuse and in family clinics between 25-40% of patients report being abused etc. Furthermore, it is well known that women were ill-treated in the Middle Ages in the West and that there was an old English proverb, which is still quoted: "A woman, ass, and walnut-tree, the more you beat, the better be" (an English saying, Oxford Dictionary).