Yusuf Al-Qaradawi Translator's Note We realise the importance of this book in dispelling some of the misconceptions of Islam, and in spreading a religion on Earth which can solve or allay the adversities which abound.
With books such as The Status of Women in Islam, it is hoped the recognition of Islam as a mercy to mankind becomes apparent. The Status of Women in Islam is hoped to be one of many to be put forth on this subject of the continual discovery of women, their abilities, and the solace they provide. The case of woman and their special place in the order of Allah has been undermined throughout the world and I might add, history.
The plight of the fairer sex in the West, where widespread exploitation exists, in the East, where their value is distortedly depreciated and sadly, I must admit in the Arab world where people do not follow their religion, is indeed tragic. Women are the underpinnings of future generations and must be treated as such. Islam, the mercy of Allah, is for all of mankind and makes no preference to sex.
Men and women have a calling and a place in nature. Neither has a greater value, nor is one of greater importance. Both are subject to Divine Retribution which is equal for the capacity of each. The Quran expounds upon this in multiple verses and exists as an illuminating miracle for those who reflect.
I hope there is no confusion with my use the terms of God, Who is Allah, The One, The Almighty, The Everlasting, The Provider and the other ninety-nine names of Allah which should be ceaselessly reflected upon for inspiration and guidance. I especially wish to thank Dr. Elham Fathy, Alicia Daniel, and Afiwine Mischler for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of this book.
It is common talk that women constitute half the society and that the society should not neglect them, leave them idle, maltreat them nor dissolve their rights. This is all true. It may as well be argued that although women constitute half of the population, their influence exceeds their number, since women, for good or ill, influence their husbands and children. The poet Hafiz Ibrahim struck this note when he described the woman as a whole school, the sound management of which leads to the production of a noble society.
For these reasons scientists, thinkers, leaders, reformers, preachers and educators have all shown interest in the case of the woman. They have called for doing her justice, treating her with respect and for the abolition of forms of unfairness and repression towards her so that she can have her rightful access to learning, work, responsibility and choice in marriage.
Some did not find this enough; they wanted to give her the right of sexual permissiveness, homosexuality, unrestricted abortion, rebellion against the family, and disregard of values of religion and society.
These were some of the aims the International Conference on Women in Peking impelled. It has provoked a lot of controversy in the Islamic and even Christian worlds. We Muslims have a divine document that truly honours women and treats her with justice; it is a document that rescued her from the gloomy injustice of Pre-Islamic darkness. This document of The Noble Qur'an-honours the woman as a human being, as a feminine being, as a daughter, wife, mother and, no less, as a full member of her society.
True, some Muslims have wronged women in different ages by depriving her of her right to solid religious knowledge and her right to work. They have even forbidden her from going to the mosque for worship or leaming, compelled her to marry someone she did not like and confined her to her home. But this has happened in the absence of any sound religious awareness. Nor did it prevail everywhere; there have always been Muslims willing to reject this, something we have seen happening in rural areas.
Islam's true stance on the status of the woman is what this small treatise seeks to make clear. Although the issues relating to women and the family are dealt with in some of our previous books, particularly The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam Al-Halal wal-Haram fil Islam and Contemporary Legal Opinions Fataawa Muserah , the reader may find in these pages a light that guides the way to knowledge of the correct opinions on this critical issue, between harsh austerity and excessive indulgence.
With the advent of Islam, circumstances improved for the woman. The woman's dignity and humanity were restored. Islam confirmed her capacity to carry out Allah's commands, her responsibilities and observation of the commands that lead to heaven. Islam considered the woman as a worthy human being, with a share in humanity equal to that of the man. Both are two branches of a single tree and two children from the same father, Adam, and mother, Eve.
Their single origin, their general human traits, their responsibility for the observation of religious duties with the consequent reward or punishment, and the unity of their destiny all bear witness to their equality from the Islamic point of view. Establishing this fact, the Noble Qur'an says: 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 and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual rights , and do not cut the relations of the wombs kinship.
Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you. Because of this fact, the verse commands people to fear Allah as their Lord and be heedful of the duties that the wombs, as symbolic of this bond, impose.
The man on this account is a brother to the woman and the woman is the other half of the pair. The Messenger blessings and peace be upon him says, "Women are the sisters of men.
On the purely religious level for instance, the Qur'an says: Zakat, and alms, etc. Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward i. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do ;and forbid people from Al-Munkar i. Allah will have mercy on them. Dwell you and your wife in the Paradise and eat both of you freely with pleasure and delight of things therein as wherever you will, but come not near this tree or you both will be of the Zalim'n wrongdoers.
Thus Eve was neither the sole eater from the tree, nor the one who initiated the act. Rather, the mistake was theirs both, and both of them repented and asked for forgiveness: We have wronged ourselves. If You forgive us not, and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall be losers".
Shall I lead you to the Tree of Eternity and to a kingdom that will never waste away? Whatever the case may be, even accepting that Eve did commit a trespass, she, alone, would be responsible without any transmission of accountability to her daughters. On the question of equality of punishment and reward and eligibility for Paradise, The Almighty says: They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.
Paradise in the Hereafter. As a rule, Islam acknowledges the woman's rights to all kinds of ownership, spending and channelling of her money. It gives her the rights of inheritance, selling, buying, renting, donating, lending, allocating property for religious and charitable purposes, giving alms, legal transfer and mortgage, as well as many other forms of contracts and actions. The woman's right to seek education or learning is basic and is also guaranteed by Islamic teachings. The woman is also required to perform religious ordinances and forms of worship the way the man is.
Praying, fasting, Zakat the alms sanctifying tax , pilgrimage and all the other fundamental practices in Islam are required of Muslims in their capacity, both men and women, as responsible humans.
Again the woman's actions are recompensed by Allah the way the man's actions are. The woman is not excluded from the area of social activity; Allah says: If she hosts a refugee, her action is to be respected and observed. When her brother wanted to kill him because he was an infidel, she complained to Allah's Messenger blessings and peace be upon him saying, "Allah's Messenger, my mother's son insists on killing my refugee, Ibn Hubayra. Here we tackle the more important points of uncertainty or even scepticism.
One of these questions is: The distinction if it can ever be called one between the man and the woman is not due to any preference by Allah, The Almighty, of the man or the woman on any account of being nobler or closer to the Lord. As a rule, it is piety and only piety that is the measure of ascendancy, nobility and closeness to Allah: Legal testimony The Qur'anic verse known as "the indebtedness verse" in which Allah prescribes writing debt contracts as a precautionary measure is: And if there are not two men available , then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them two women errs, tile other can remind her.
And the witnesses should not refuse whethey are called on for evidence. Moreover, the majority of jurisprudents establish that a woman's testimony does not count in major crimes and in matters which do not relate to the rule of retaliation in kind.
Yet the distinction is far from being due to any belief in a deficiency of the woman's humanity and integrity. It is rather due to her natural disposition and her special inclinations which may exclude her involvement in such matters while being focused on motherhood or the household.
Hence, there is very likely to be a kind of characteristic inattention on her part when it comes to handling these matters. For this reason, Allah commands creditors if they want to verify the value of debt to seek the testimony of two men or one man and two women. The Qur'an puts it unambiguously: It is not infrequent, for instance, to see a woman closing her eyes, or running away in panic from a scene of bloodshed; therefore , it becomes difficult for that woman to give a reliable account of the crime.
Nevertheless, this has also meant for the jurisprudents that a woman's testimony counts in cases of feminine affairs such as foster relationships, menstruation, delivery and such matters whose knowledge was confined to women in past ages and probably still is.
Yet, Ata'a-tabiei literally a follower a companion of one of the Prophet's Companions establishes that a woman's testimony on such matters does count. In addition, other jurisprudents accept a woman's testimony in crimes that take place in female gatherings that are not usually frequented by men, like women [ Surah 2: The question, however, is: It is more in the nature of things to accept a woman's testimony in this case so long as she is reputed to be honest, accurate and mindful.
Commenting on the verse: The verse does not address the question of the status of the testimony. It rather addresses the methods of verification and establishment of confidence about the individual's rights at the moment of transaction.
The verse actually begins: When you contract a debt for a fixed period, write it down. Let a scribe write it down in justice between you. Let not the scribe refuse to write as Allah has taught him," until it reaches " And get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men available , then a man and two woman, so that if one of them two women errs, the other can remind her. Thus the verse points to the best ways of documentation and verification by which partners in a deal can have maximum security.
This therefore does not mean that a single woman's, or a group of woman's testimony without a man's does not count in establishing rights nor is to be taken by a judge since the maximum required in jurisdiction is "evidence". Along this line of thinking, jurisprudent Ibn Al-Qayyim establishes that "evidence" in Islamic Law is more comprehensive than testimony; confirming "evidence" is the factor in establishing rights, what makes it "evident" and consequently what is to be considered by the judge.
The judge pronounces his verdict on the basis of decisive evidence, even if it were a non-Muslim's testimony as long as he feels it worthy of his trust.