The Islamic world view is largely based on the following general principles:
a) Not men, not women - ALLAH is Supreme:
�The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah (His Words, the Qur�an) and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: �We hear and we obey.� And such are the successful (who will live forever in Paradise). And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, fears Allah, and keeps his duty (to Him), such are the successful.� [Qur�an, Surah Noor, 51-52]
While the West debates over who should be the central focus of society -- men or women -- Islam is very clear on this: the central focus of the Muslim society should be Allah � not the man or the woman. The only One Supreme is Allah, and the only law supreme is His law. The focus of a Muslim�s life is to attain the pleasure of Allah through obeying Him. Thus, both Muslim men and women submit equally and without distinction to the dictates of this law, brought from Allah by His Prophet (sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam), and explained in detail to a great extent by his wife Aishah, one of the greatest scholars of Islam.
Thus, if a Muslim woman will obey her husband per the law of Allah, it should be very clear that she is not doing that out of submissiveness to the husband, but is doing that solely to please Allah. And if the man is kind to his wife or mother, and provides for them, he is not doing a favor upon them, but is merely fulfilling his obligations, as set forth by the law of Allah. If Allah had commanded the reverse to be the case, then both men and women would submit to the reverse, but again with the same spirit of obeying and pleasing Allah.
It should be very clear that Islam allows submission only and only to Allah, not to any human being � man or woman. Thus, Islam truly liberates women from other men (and vice versa for that matter). Once a Muslim woman submits her entire life completely to Allah and knows that whatever is happening is the Will of Allah, she feels an unmatched sense of complete freedom and liberty from all other pressures, arising from other men, women, or society at large.
b) Basis of Superiority: Piety, not economic status or gender
�O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily the most honorable of you with Allah is that (believer) who is greater in piety (in keeping his or her duty to Allah). Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.� [Qur�an, Surah Hujurat, 13]
This is in stark contradiction to the Western concept of honor and superiority based on purely materialistic ideals. Even the most radical feminists implicitly acknowledge the superiority of men over them. This is evident in the fact that the standard of perfection for a woman is a male standard -- �a woman can do everything a man can do, so she should be treated equal to men�... if they truly believed that women were superior, then the slogan would run, �men can�t do so and so (such as have children), therefore women are superior,� but we never hear any such statements. The rush to imitate men reveals an underlying inferiority complex among women. After all, one only imitates another when they feel the other is better. So regardless of what the �liberated� women of the West claim on the surface, deep down, they consider men to be superior to themselves.
Material wealth, status, and fame are other criteria of superiority among both, Western men and women. Many young girls are found almost killing themselves in an effort to look like some �celebrity�. One British woman went to extent of having over 30 plastic surgeries done on herself in order to resemble the Barbie doll! She claims this brought her �fame and fortune� (in addition to an increased risk of AIDS, as the number of her boyfriends grew significantly).
Islam has done away with all such stresses of life by claiming that, in the eyes of God, only the one who is more conscious of their duty to God, the one who is more pious, is the one more superior -- this is regardless of material wealth, status, physical appearance, or gender. Even when choosing a wife, the Prophet (sallallaahu `alahi wa sallam) has emphasized piety and not physical appearance or material wealth by stating that "A man marries a woman for four reasons: for the sake of her wealth, her family chain, her beauty, or her love of religion. Marry one for her religiousness, and you will be blessed." [Related by Sahih Bukhari and Muslim]
In fact, in the Qur�an, where Allah has given the example of true believers, two women are mentioned (Mary, the mother of Jesus, and the wife of the Pharoah during the time of the Prophet Moses, peace be upon him). This clearly defines who is superior and what they need to do in order to achieve this superiority (i.e. simply obey Allah).
c) Cooperation and Complementation - Not competition
�The believers, men and women, are Auliya� (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al-Ma�ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders oneto do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they establish the prayer, and give the poor-due, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise. Allah has promised the believers -- men and women -- Gardens under which rivers flow to dwell therein forever, and beautiful mansions in Gardens of Eden. But the greatest bliss is the Good Pleasure of Allah. That is the supreme success." [Qur�an, Surah Taubah, 71-72]
Unlike the West, where the genders are in a state of conflict and competition with each other, Islam envisages a society where men and women cooperate with one another for the betterment of society and to achieve their mutual goal -- the attainment of the pleasure of Allah. Both genders are more interested in fulfilling their responsibilities in their assigned positions, and thus, complement each other, rather than compete with each other for the same position. This competition, much encouraged in the West, has no place in Islam. Women competing with men for leadership positions in offices have left a total vacuum in other vital areas, such as, proper care for the children, the elderly, and the home in general. The resultant decay in the societal fabric is not something hidden. Islam, on the other hand, teaches both men and women to be content with what Allah has given them, and to pray to Allah for His bounty instead:
�And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you to excel others. For men there is a reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.� [Qur�an, Surah Nisaa, 32]
d) Emphasis on the Hereafter - This world is not the goal in itself
�Beautified for people is the love of things they covet; women, children, much of gold and silver (wealth), branded beautiful horses, cattle and well-tilled land. This is the pleasure of the present world�s life; but Allah has the excellent return with Him. Say: Shall I inform you of things far better than those? For the pious, there are Gardens (Paradise) with their Lord, underneath which rivers flow. Therein (is their) eternal (home) and purified mates. And Allah will be pleased with them. And Allah is All-Seer of (His) slaves.� [Qur�an, Surah Aal-i-Imran, 14-15]
One only has to open a random page from the Qur�an to find that it contains something about the importance of the next life, or the hereafter. The importance of the eternal life that is to come with the Judgment Day cannot be over-emphasized. Thus, when Muslims, both men and women, have their eyes on that life, and focus on what they need to do to succeed in that eternal life, then many sources of problems in this life are automatically removed. One of the many vices this concept does away with is Materialism. Materialism and greed are the main driving forces behind the drive for women to work. The desire to have more and more of worldly pleasures leads one deeper and deeper into the quicksand we call �dunya�. The West is very deep into this sand, and is calling others towards it, whereas Allah is constantly reminding us that this world is temporary, no problem if we don�t have many things here, no problem if some hardship comes our way -- focus on the next life as that is much better and permanent.
e) Accountability to Allah:
"...No bearer of burden shall bear the burden of another. Then to your Lord is your return, and He sill inform you what you used to do. Verily, He is the All-Knower of that which is in (men's) breasts." [Qur'an: Surah Az-Zumar, v.7]
Every individual, man and woman, is directly accountable to Allah for all his or her deeds. Allah has defined what He wants men to do and what He expects of women. He will then question each one of them based on these assignments. Thus, a Muslim will keep this in mind when deciding on what career to pick, what job to take and so forth. Women will not want to work or have careers when they find that they interfere with Allah�s assigned role for them. Thus, they will voluntarily choose to follow the �restrictions� of Islam out of their love for Allah and desire to obey Him. Allah will, in turn, bestow peace and tranquility upon them in this life and the next.
f) Emphasis on responsibilities:
A person aware of his accountability to Allah, will place a great deal of emphasis on his responsibilities, and try to fulfill them in the best manner. This mode of thinking is in sharp contrast with Western attitudes, where the slogan is �my rights, my rights, and my rights� without any regard to �the other person�s rights and my responsibilities�. Islam does establish a justice system which ensures that everyone receives the rights due to them. Both men and women are free to demand their rights, but the emphasis is on forgiveness, compromise, and fulfilling one�s obligations for the sake of Allah alone -- both on the part of the man and the woman.