Place of woman in Islam

K M Zubair 22 July 2014

Islam declared the right and proper status of women

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.
The modern concept of equality of sexes is, however, alien to Islam. It is the product of human mind artificially devised and like other achievements of human mind, far from being perfect in nature. It will always remain open to debate, discussion and change in search of an ideal relationship — such ideal being ever elusive and never attainable by human effort except in the relationship, which has been determined by Allah in consonance with their respective nature.
The concept of equality of sexes as given to mankind by the Holy Quran is the only abiding and natural ideal which traces itself to the importance of origin. The Holy Quran has laid down — “O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single Person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women” — iv-i.
The Quranic verse has firmly and for all times removed the stigma of contempt and lowliness, which was the lot of women in the earlier social structures or ways of life ordered by beliefs of antiquity. Islam declared the right and proper status of women worthy of her station in the scheme of life by disclosing her origin, which was the same as that of man, and thus the woman came to occupy a place as important and indispensable as that of the man.
Both men and women in their own spheres of activity, can claim functional superiority over each other, which they should not be proud of in any way, or to consider the other in any way inferior or lowly, nor should they be envious of such functional superiority of the other.
In the interest of a balanced life pattern and happiness of the society, the natural difference in the make-up and outlook of the two sexes have to be taken into account, and the design and style of their respective rights and obligations so adjusted that one should complement the other for the contentment and happiness of the society. The courses of life of the two sexes, the men and women, must run parallel in the same direction without crossing each other.
The role of both is equally important and indispensable for the protection and preservation of all that is good and noble in human society. The world with all its scientific development, progress and charms of life, cannot survive without the contribution of men and women in their own spheres and in their own ways as gifted and ordained by the Creator of the universe.
The capabilities and God-given gifts peculiar to the respective sexes contribute their share in making a happy home, a pure, virtuous and honest society and to the march of humanity. The importance and value of a woman’s share in the progress and happiness of mankind was first recognised by Islam when her rights and obligations were pronounced as part of the code of life.
The western concept of equality of sexes which more or less amounts to interchangeability of men and women in all fields of human activity is alien to Islam. The western concept instead of advocating the parallel direction of their efforts or the complementary nature of the indispensable contributions to the society of both sexes has lumped them together in one place.
Allah in all His wisdom and grace has created things in pairs -- the male and the female or the right and the left hand or the right leg and the left leg or the right eye and the left eye. They are both important for normal living; but the right can never be left nor the left become the right. They are both important and valuable in their own spheres, and in harmony with each other -- but with the difference, which always distinguishes one from the other.
The concept of equality of sexes in Islam basically rests on the fact that the method and manner on which Allah has created them has a special purpose. The man has been created, as an essential constituent in His scheme of the world with a special purpose, so is the woman created with a special purpose. The man is entitled to his rights and respect and a place of his own in society, and so is the woman entitled to her rights of self-respect and a place of honour entirely her own.
Their natural attributes and qualities are, however, different and not interchangeable and this confirms that in the divine scheme of things men and women were intended for different purposes in the best interest of humanity.
— Special to Khaleej Times