In the name of Allah ,the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

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Chapter one: Slogans

            It has been recorded in recent history that many calls have been made for women's rights. Calls for women's freedom, liberation and equal rights with men have been heard all over the world. Such calls are acceptable in societies and countries where women are neither given their due rights, nor are being fairly and justly treated.

            It is stunning and surprising, however, to hear such calls in Islamic societies where women have been fairly treated and were given their rights more than fourteen hundred years ago, and without any calls made by them, or rather by their advocates.

            Close examination of the slogans announced and called for by the women's liberation movement shows that they hinge on the following three elements:

  • Calling for women's liberation.
  • Calling for women's equal rights with men.
  • Demanding for women's rights.

Calling for Women's Liberation

            The word "liberation" indicates, first, that there are certain shackles, limitations, and bonds, restrictions or chains in place. Thus, we believe that there are many fallacies or distortions in using the term "women's liberation." The term "women's liberation" indicates that women are enslaved, and they must be liberated; that is not the case, indeed.

            Absolute liberty is, rather, impossible. Man is naturally restricted and has many limitations due to his limited abilities and capabilities. Man, in general, in any given society, primitive or civilized, lives under certain laws, rules and regulations that normally govern his life and organize all various affairs of life. Does that mean, by any standard, that man is not sovereign, independent or free?

            Freedom or liberty has, therefore, certain limits which, if exceeded, will lead to uncivilized activities which do not abide by any laws, rules, regulations or standards. Islam is the first law, or system of living, which granted women freedom and liberation. It granted women the right to deal with the society directly, rather than dealing via a guardian who is officially responsible and in charge of running all the woman's affairs (economically, socially, politically and otherwise).

            Islam has forbidden women from being publicly indecent, sexually provocative and acting as a sex agent, subject or any similar form. This is a freedom from which the male in Islam, equally, as well, has been stripped.

            Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) clearly stated: �The example of a person who keeps the restricted and imposed laws, restrictions and commands of Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), and the person who breaks them are examples of two groups of people who were in a ship and decided to divide it amongst them equally. One group got the upper deck as their lot, while the other group got the lower part of the ship. Whenever the people in the lower part of the ship need to get water they had to pass through the territory of the people on the upper deck (thus imposing on them and bothering them with their passage). The people in the lower part thought to themselves 'If we drill a hole in our portion of the ship, we can have access to the water without disturbing the party on the upper deck.' If the group on the upper deck let the group on the lower part of the ship does what they thought was right (drill a hole in the lower part of the ship to gain access to water), all the people on the ship would be destroyed. However, if they forbid them from doing so, they would all be safe.�[1]

            In fact, Islam illustrates the concept of freedom and liberty in such a way that individual behavior and conduct must not, by any means, be either harmful to the individual himself or destructive to the society at large.

            A well-known German thinker and philosopher, Schopenhauer said:"Grant woman total and absolute freedom and liberty for ONE YEAR ONLY, and check with me after that to see the results of such freedom. Do not forget that you (all), along with me will inherit virtues, chastity and good morals. If I die (before then) you are free to say either: "He was wrong!" or "He hit the heart of the truth!"[2]

            It is suitable to record here the confession by an American female reporter who is syndicated in over 250 newspapers, worked in the area of journalism and broadcasting for over 20 years, and who has visited numerous Islamic countries, Helesian Stansbery. She said at the end of one of her visits to an Islamic country:"The Arab-Islamic society is wholesome and healthy. This society must continue to protect its traditions that restrict both its males and females to a certain and reasonable degree. This society definitely differs from the European and American societies. The Arab-Islamic society has its own traditions that impose certain restrictions and limitations on women, respect and obedience to parents, and imposes most restrictions. First and foremost, the most strict restrictions and limitations are on absolute sexual freedom that truly threatens both the society and the family in Europe and the United States of America. Therefore, the restrictions that are imposed by the Arab-Islamic society are valid and beneficial as well. I strongly recommend that you adhere to your traditions and code of ethics. Forbid coeducation. Restrict female freedom, or rather, return back to the full 'purdah' practices. Truly this is better for you than the sexual freedom of Europe and the United States of America. Forbid coeducation because we have suffered from it in the USA. The American society has become sophisticated, full of all forms and terms of sexual freedom. The victims of sexual freedom and coeducation are filling the prisons, sidewalks, bars, taverns and whore houses. The (false) freedom that we have granted to our young females and daughters has turned them to drugs, crime and white slavery. Coeducation, sexual freedom and all other types of "freedom" in the European and American societies have threatened the family and shaken moral values and ethics."[3]

            The question that poses itself here to the women's liberation advocates is: "What is the best, most beneficial and more protecting system for the honor, dignity and pride of women?"

Woman's Equality with Men

            Woman's equality with men is impossibility. The very nature of men and women is different in terms of physical, mental and psychological abilities.

            If equality between all members of the same gender is impossible, regardless whether the gender is masculine or feminine, due to natural differences, it is impossible to be equal between two genders. This is only natural. Allah Almighty, stated in the Glorious Quran (51:49) which the meaning of is translated as: �And of everything We have created pairs, that you may remember (the Grace of Allah).�

            Truly, Islam treats women with fairness and justice and preserves and protects all the rights, to which she is entitled, as we shall illustrate throughout this book.

    1. Islam requires equal religious duties, requirements and rituals of the woman, as required of man. Prayer (Salah), fasting (Sawm), charity (Zakah) and pilgrimage (Hajj) are equally required of both genders. Islam, however, considers woman in some cases by making the requirements a little lighter on her in terms of religious rules and regulations, such as dropping both the prayers and the fasting of a menstruating woman or a woman in the state of after-birth confinement. A woman is required, however to make up the days of fasting she has missed due to menses. This has been imposed in such a way only to take the woman's health and physical situation into consideration during menses and confinement periods. "From the very beginning of creation, male has been distinguished and differentiated from female. Still, one completes the other. Based upon this, we believe such a precise division in terms of the sexes does entail two different missions in life, otherwise, there would be no need for such differences in the sexes. Moreover, this indicates that each sex has its own merits, while both are human beings. We can easily recognize the difference between day and night, although both help us realize one thing, "TIME". The daytime grants us the ability to seek our daily provision, while the night grants us the peace to rest. Man and woman, in this aspect of required from men ONLY, based on his sex. Similarly, there are certain things that are required from the woman ONLY, based on her natural preparation. Yet, both man and woman are human beings who share many common characteristics."[4] Allah Almighty, stated in the Glorious Quran (9:71) which the meaning of is translated as: �The believers, men and women, are helpers, supporters, friends and protectors of one another. They enjoin all that is good, and forbid (people) from all what is evil, they offer their prayers perfectly, and give the Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bestow Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.�

    2. Islam has entitled both males and females to the same worldly and Hereafter reward and penalty. They both are equal in terms of reward and punishment as stated in Glorious Quran (16:97) which the meaning of is translated as: �Whoever does righteous acts, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islamic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provisions), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they are used to (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).�

    3. Islam made both the male and the female equal in terms of humanity. Islam does not categorize woman as the source of "Original Sin" that caused Adam (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to be dismissed from Jannah (paradise), as other religious teaching dictate. Allah Almighty, stated in the Glorious Quran (4:1) which the meaning of is translated as: �O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women...�  Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) stated in the Glorious Quran (75:36-39) which the meaning of is translated as: �Does man think that he will be left neglected without being punished or rewarded for the obligatory duties enjoined by his Lord (Allah) on him? Was he not a mixed male and female discharge of semen pouring forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned (him) in due proportion, and made him into two sexes, male and female.�  Allah illustrated in the quoted verses from Glorious Quran that He created both sexes from one single source. There is no difference in creation between both sexes. There is no difference between both sexes in terms of qualifications as well. Both are very much alike. Thus, Islam canceled and abrogated all previous unfair and unjust laws and systems against women, especially those which considered women of inferior quality or nature to that of men. Consequently, due to these misconceptions, women have been deprived of many of their human rights. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, as reported by Tirmithee: �Women are but (equal) brethren for men.�

    4. Islam has entitled women to the same rights insofar as chastity, integrity and personal honor and respect are concerned. Any person who falsely accuses any chaisty woman with adultry or fornication shall be publicly punished, similar to the treatment of man. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (24:4) which the meaning of is translated as: �And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and reject their testimony forever, they indeed are the liars, rebellious and disobedient to Allah.�

    5. Islam considers women equally qualified insofar as financial dealings are concerned. Woman, according to Islamic rules, regulations and teachings, can own, buy, sell and undertake any type of financial transaction without the need for guardianship, restrictions or limitations.

    6. Islam indicated that whosoever honors, respects and deals with women with integrity and respect possesses an integral, healthy and fully composed personality. On the other hand, a man who mistreats women, insults them, humiliates them or subjects them to unnecessary humiliation is a mean, dishonest and disrespected man. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: �Only an honorable man treats women with honor and integrity. And only a mean, deceitful and dishonest man humiliates and insults women.�[5]

    7. Islam entitles women to the same rights in terms of education. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, as reported by Baihaqee: �Seeking knowledge is compulsory for each and every Muslim (i.e., male and female).� Muslim scholars collectively agreed that the word "Muslim" includes both male and female, as we indicated between brackets. Similarly, Islam entitles women to the same equal right to raise children in the best form, shape and format in accordance with right Islamic guidance and means of education. Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) is reported to have said: �He whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, humiliate [insult or degrade] her and does not give preference to his son over her, such a person will be granted entry to Paradise by Allah.�[6]

    8. Islam places woman in an equal position to that of men in terms of the responsibility of reforming the society in general. , male and female, man and woman, equally shoulder the responsibility of enjoining good and forbidding evil in society. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala), stated in the Glorious Quran (9:71) which the meaning of is translated as: �The believers, men and women, are helpers, supporters, friends and protectors of one another, they enjoin all that is good, and forbid all that is evil, they offer their prayers perfectly, and give Zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bestow Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.�

Demanding Women's Rights

            The core of our discussion in this book is the demanding of women's rights. We would like to point out at the very beginning that there is not a single law, system or regulation that preserves, maintains and protects woman's rights as much as Islam does, whether in the past or in modern times. And this shall be noted in the following discussions throughout this book.

            It is sufficient, we believe, to quote non-Muslim scholars' statements in this regard.

            Sir Hamilton, the well-known English thinker and philosopher stated in his book Islam and Arab Civilization: "The rules, regulations and verdicts concerning women in Islam are clear, frank and open. Islam capitalizes on the complete care that should be given to the protection of woman against anything that may harm her personally, or causes ill-fame, reputation or character."

            Gustave Le Bond, the well-known French thinker stated in his book The Arab Civilization (p.488): "Islamic virtuous deeds are not limited to honoring and respecting women, but rather, we can add that Islam is the first religion to honor and respect. We can easily prove this by illustrating that all religions and nations, prior to the advent of Islam, caused much harm and insult to women."

            He also pointed out (p.497): "Matrimonial rights which have been stated and illustrated in the Glorious Quran and by the interpreters of the meanings of the Glorious Quran are far better than European matrimonial rights for both husband and wife."

            Over fourteen hundred years ago, Islam began to spread in the known world following the commission of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) Mohammad bin Abdillah, of Makkah, spread its light through the teachings that came with the Glorious Quran, and the traditions of Allah's Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The Islamic teachings made a great impact, change and influence on the lives of the followers of Islam as a religion and a way of life. Consequently, these changes affected the entire societies in which Muslims lived, traveled and settled. The advent of Islam was different in all aspects. It spread very rapidly in the known world, and was known, and still is, as the most comprehensive life system. Islam is found to be exact, accurate and explicit in every point. It addresses every human need, and does not contradict, clash or reject any lawful, sound and meaningful requirements of human being's very existence which are essential to his continuity in life.

            We would like to focus here on the changes that Islam brought in terms of woman and her rights, with which we are concerned in this book. It is suggested, therefore, that in order to have a complete, thorough and clear picture about this subject one must examine, study and explore the status of women prior to the advent of Islam and further, compare these facts with the changes that occurred after the application of Islam in the lives of people in the Islamic society.

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[1] This Hadith is reported by Imam Bukhari.
[2] Ghalayenee, A Word about Women, he quoted from Schopenhauer book Islam, the Spirit of Civilization, page 224.
[3] Ghalayenee, A Word about Women, he quoted from Schopenhauer book Islam, the Spirit of Civilization, page 224.
[4] Shaikh Mitwalli Al-Shi'rawee, in his book Fate and Predestiny.
[5] This Hadith is reported by Ibn 'Asaker.
[6] Reported by al-Hakim and al-Naisaburi.