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Women’s Status in Islam

Women have the following rights in Islam:

  • equality of reward for equal deeds;
  •  personal respect;
  •  to express their opinion and be heard;
  •  to participate fully in public life;
  •  to obtain education:

Women can be educated by men. The Prophet sent Umar Ibn al-Khattab to teach the women of the Ansar:

It is reported by Umm `Atiyah thaat when the Messenger of Allah came to Madinah, he ordered the women of the Ansar (Muslims of Madinah) to gather in one house, and sent Umar Ibn al-Khattab to them (to convey the teachings of Islam). He asluted them while standing at athe door of the house and they returned his greeting. Then he said, `I am a messenger of the Messenger of Allah, sent especially to you.’ [Bukhari]

And women taught men too, not only the wives of the Prophet but many others later were teachers of men, e.g. Aishah bt. Sa’id Ibn Abi Waqqas, who taught the first compiler of Hadith, Malik; and Sayyida Nafisa, granddaughter of al-Hasan, the Prophet’s grandson, who taught Imam Shafi’i, and much later a woman taught Ibn al-Arabi, the famous Sufi thinker and greatly influenced his thought.

According to the Prophet: It is the duty of every Muslim (male or female) to seek knowledge.[Bukhari]

  • to earn money if they need it or want it:

Islamic law makes no demand that women should confine themselves to household duties.

The early Muslim women were found in all walks of life. The first wife of the Prophet, mother of all his surviving children, was a businesswoman who hired him as an employee, and proposed marriage to him through a third-party; women traded in the marketplace, and the Khalifah Umar, not normally noted for his liberal attitude to women, appointed a woman, Shaff’a Bint Abdullah, to supervise the market. Other women, like Laila al-Ghifariah, took part in battles, carrying water and nursing the wounded, some, like Suffiah bint Abdul Muttalib even fought and killed the enemies to protect themselves and the Prophet and like Umm Dhahhak bint Masoud were rewarded with booty in the same way as the men.

  • to keep all their own money (they are not responsible to maintain any relations);
  • to have their own independent property;
  • to negotiate marriage in terms of their choice;
  • to refuse any marriage that does not please them;
  • respectable married status;
  • legitimacy and maintenance for their children;
  • financially, spiritually, morally, and above all intellectually support from her husband;
  • to get sexual satisfaction from their husband;
  • to obtain divorce from their husband, even on the grounds that they simply can’t stand him (divorce is a solution unless there is hardly any other alternative but it does not mean that men have more right to divorce their wives than women do):

If a woman does find that she cannot bear the man she is married to, even because she finds him ugly, Islamic law makes it possible for a court to give her a divorce from him. It is only necessary to prove that she hates him irrevocably – the court does not need to probe into the reasons for the hatred. The Prophet granted divorces to at least two women in such circumstances. One of them, Jamila, the sister of the hypocrite Abdullah Ibn Ubayy, told the Prophet about her objection to her husband Thabit Ibn Qais:

Messenger of Allah! Nothing can keep the two of us together. As I lifted my veil, I saw him coming, accompanied by some men. I could see that he was the blackest, the shortest and the ugliest of them all. By Allah! I do not dislike him for any blemish in his faith or his morals, it is his ugliness that I dislike. Had the fear of Allah not stood in my way, I must have spat on him when he came to me. … I am afraid my desperation might drive my Islam closer to disbelief.

The Prophet asked her if she would return the garden Thabit had given her, and she agreed to do this and was given a divorce. Thabit did not do any better with his other wife, Habibah. And there are also examples of similar cases from the times of the first three khalifahs.

– custody of their children after divorce;

and more…

Also, women are given exemption from some duties like:
Fasting when they are pregnant or nursing or menstruating,

Praying when menstruating or bleeding after childbirth,

– The obligation to attend congregational prayers in the mosque on Fridays,

– The obligation to fight [in defense], although they are not forbidden to do so.



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