by Raja RK
Why do we always ask this question? Are women enjoying equal status with men? Why can we not have a concept of equality in mind when talking about women? What is the reason for so much depression in women? Is there a genuine reason behind the sad state of affairs? Why do we all feel about the problem but find ourselves incapable of doing something about it? Before going to the answers in Qur’an, let’s look at different situations in different countries.
Women’s Rights According To The Pakistani Constitution 
Pakistan has many brilliant minds working in the field of legislation, sharia, social justice, and women empowerment. They have been contributing to shaping the laws and public awareness. The late Asma Jehangir of the Women Action Forum is one such example. There are many good laws to prevent the abuse of women, but the situation is not very encouraging. Many laws are discriminating, and they have deprived women of their voice. One such law is the law of evidence which has reduced them to a commodity. They cannot go through the system of justice on their own. They have no other option except to seek help from those who take advantage of their situation. The law stated in Qur’an verse 2:282 is clearly in financial matters and that too in a situation when a woman is alone and incapable of understanding them. It does not apply to all cultures of the world. The generalization of this command in 2:282 has negatively affected women and Islam’s reputation.
Women’s Rights In India 
India has been a democracy most of the time since independence. The parliament has had enough time to discuss and formulate laws, and they have excellent laws which show an exemplary approach toward women. But the condition of women in India needs to be examined. The Hindu religion had women at a higher status. As all faiths were corrupted after their respective messengers, the same happened with Hindu Dharam, and women were reduced to objects.
Today men in India generally worship women’s deities during the day, and the same men rape women at night.
Women’s Rights In Developed Countries 
Women in developed countries are generally enjoying freedom. They have the right to avail of equal earning opportunities and choose their life partners. But they, too, are not in ideal conditions. They are facing disloyalties and weakening family bonds. Humans have to live together; loneliness is against our nature. They, too, face abuse. America is one of those countries where women are at a high risk of sexual abuse.
What are the solutions to these problems?
The abovementioned questions are valid, and their answer lies in the Qur’an.
Not Taking An Interpretation As Divine 
First, we must understand that an interpretation of holy scripture is an understanding of a single person or a group of persons; it is not divine. We should always be open to accepting different opinions. There is a critical way of thinking to put aside our loyalties and faiths and let the scripture speak for itself. For example, the most famous verse in this regard is verse 4:34; which, according to traditional translation, puts men in charge of women.
Gender Equality 
Qur’an treats men and women as equals. Both are equally responsible for their deeds and have the same rewards and punishments for their actions.
Let us analyze the word “Nisa” in the light of contemporary Arabic at the time of Qur’an revelation, i.e., the 7th century. The term has many meanings, of which “woman” is just one. The word means less privileged people in our society so that they can be poor, orphans, far-travellers, enslaved people, prisoners and disabled, and men and women without any source of income and sustenance. In the same way, the word “Rijal” means stronger, well-provided people, rulers, wealthy men, and women who can provide for others. Men are not declared superior to women. It is a bias developed by religious scholars late after the messenger’s death, almost two centuries apart. It was an Arab custom to suppress the women, and Qur’an declared the Arabs as “the staunchest people in hypocrisy” (Q 9:97). Although they had accepted Islam, they could not leave the ways of their forefathers (Q 63:1).
Discrimination Due To Wrong Interpretation 
In the same way, let us look at 2:234, where according to traditional translation, women must observe Iddah for four months and ten days. Now let us look at the keyword, I.e., Azwajan, which means spouse. It can be a man to a wife or a woman to a husband. If we look at the traditional translation, it seems that only women love and miss their husbands. Therefore, they are correct to observe Iddah, but this is not true. On the passing of a wife, man also feels devastated. Usually, the mental condition of a widowed person is not suitable to start a new relationship. Same is the case of Divorce when we experience more emotional stress, failure, and anxiety. So Iddah is for both, which is unfortunately imposed on women, and this is Arab corruption.
Consolation In Marital Relationships
Now we look at 2:223; it declares a woman as a tilth which means a field of some crop. Here we have to examine the word ‘haratsun’, which is a field. We must consider why God has used this word? see what a farmer does with his lot. Will he spill the seeds on the soil’s surface, or will he prepare them first to sow them? And then, will it not take care of the earth’s fertility? Will he not water it? Will he plan what crop he is going to get? And so on.
How To Deal With A Misunderstanding 
Now we get back to 4:34. The later part mentions how a man should deal when a misunderstanding develops. The critical word Wadribhona is translated into beating them, contrary to the Qur’an’s essence. The prophet never struck any of his wives. If he was to implement the Qur’an, he could have set an example. What happened is that he stopped himself for a long time, and the matter was hurting the feelings of the messenger, so God admonished him, and he took back his wow. (Q 66:1). So the verse means to set the women’s beds apart first and later to tell them clearly. The main reason stated by the scholars is that when a woman is unwilling to have sex at the husband’s wish, it is misconduct. The woman (according to them) deserves a beating. Let’s analyze the situation.
Look at 4:25, where it says that if you cannot afford to marry a confident and strong woman, you can match the slave woman. The word used here is Fankihuhunna which means marrying according to the prevailing custom of the society, giving her the complete status of a respectable wife. Did God need to mention marriage if He already had allowed sex with slave women? It means sex out of wedlock is forbidden. So if we can not have sex with slave women, can we have it with a free woman without her will? All I can say is that these scholars are obsessed with sex. And then they suggest that use a light thing to strike the woman, i.e., a Miswak. Will it affect a thoroughly grown-up individual? Is there any logic in it? God created Universe and made complex laws to control things, and then He created such foolish laws for human beings, whom He gave freedom of choice? Human beings should be treated like human beings. That is why God said that even then, if you can not resolve the matter, arbitration is mentioned in the very next verse, I.e., (4:35). Even after that, there is a respectable way to part, I.e., Divorce.
We All Are Counterparts Of A Divorce
Now let’s discuss Divorce. Why must we part ways when we have set a relationship in the name of God? Has God failed our expectations? The truth is that we do not take God’s laws seriously. We are always interested in other people’s affairs, and it is a habit in our society to keep a check on women. We do not let our women have a friendly relationship with their husbands and tend to teach the men things like killing the cat on day one. If somehow a couple is enjoying bliss, we feel jealous and keep nagging them. God has mentioned in 2:102 that the worst kind of magic is that through which we make a man and his wife part ways. So Divorce is not just between two people; it is we also who are responsible for that. Then is it alright to put the blame only on women?
Sensibility Is A Must In Marriage 
We in traditional Muslim countries want to marry off young women, which is against Qur’an. The Qur’an guides that marriage able age is when a person achieves full physical and mental vigor. Qur’an mentions it in 4:6. If we give our children time to grow, educate and earn for themselves, they can make better decisions and exercise their right to choose. After all, how can we choose God if we don’t get the chance to choose our life partner? What other purpose of life can we fulfill? Shall we be more likely to break a relationship that we set with freedom and responsibility plus in the name of God?
Then there is the issue of Polygamy. The verse cited in this regard is 4:3. This, again, is a victim of miss translation. This verse is about the orphan girls that marry OFF in twos or threes and fours when you see maturity in them. It is a corruption of the Mullah that they turned into Polygamy. The prophet was allowed to set an example of conduct with different kinds of women. For example, God did not need to have some other prophets working parallel to this prophet, so he was allowed to marry widows, divorced, and unmarried women, and we know that all these kinds of women had their setup of minds. Muslims treat all types of women with the same yardstick. Instead of understanding the purpose, men try to imitate him.
Equality In Inheritance
Let’s come to the laws of inheritance. They, too, are given an unquranic interpretation. The dependent people are mentioned as Nisa and, as described earlier, are the weaker people who are not necessarily women. Men and women are equal partners in inheritance
Right To Dress As Far As We Are Modest
Before we look at the verses in which the supposedly Hijab or Niqab is mentioned we must understand the difference between a prophet and a messenger.
Naby or Prophet
- A prophet is always a man according to Qur’an
- A prophet is a receiver of a new book, like Moses(A.S) received the Torah, and Muhammad(PBUH) received the Qur’an A prophet has something new.
- When God addresses a messenger in person, it is always a prophet or Naby.
- A messenger or a Rasool can be from Malika or any other creation of God.
- When a person delivers a message or book, he is called the messenger; in this case, the message is more important than the messenger.
- A messenger deals with what is already present. Like the people coming after Moses(A.S) were messengers or Rasool.
Now we look at 24:30-31, where God has explicitly advised men and women to keep their gaze low, and women are advised to cover their bosoms and be modest. This command is for all, irrespective of Naby, Rasool, or common people. On the contrary, verse 33:59 addresses the Naby: the messenger in person and his women. Islam is for unity and not for uniformity. Skin problems and hair loss can be caused by covering the head in areas with hot and humid climates. So it is not feasible and logical to observe Hijab. Men and women are free to choose as far as they follow Qur’an.
We can see in the light of the Qur’an that life is easier if we follow the Qur’an and are ready to accept different opinions. Islam is based on receiving new ideas, analyzing them critically, and following them if proven right and sensible. There is no discrimination between men and women, with God and Qur’an guiding well. Women are supposed to take responsibility for their actions, as men are considered. Their treatment as second-class believers is not proper in any respect.
This article was first published in Raja RK’s personal blog.
- Women Related laws in Pakistan. Wikipedia. Search[↩]
- Pew Research – Views on women’s place in society[↩]
- Women in developed countries are more educated than men but are earning less. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-women-pay-idUSKCN1C911P[↩]
- “The Holy Spirit from The Gospel of John Restored and Translated with Commentaries” by James David Audlin[↩]
- Islamic Laws of Inheritance in the Light of Quran – New Signs Magazine[↩]
- Iddat for Widowed Muslim Women – New Signs Magazine[↩]
- Chapter 4: Nisa. The Qur’an: A contemporary understanding by Dr. Safi Kaskas[↩]
- Age of Consent from the Quran – New Signs Magazine[↩]
- Biblical Mullahs by Abu Hurairah pp83[↩]
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