Solution to inequality between men and women: the values of the Qur'an

In societies devoid of real justice, the inequality of women and men is a serious social issue posing major problems. In many countries around the world, women are often treated as second-class citizens and even outcasts. Perceived as weak and protection-seeking beings, they are often abused. For the same reason, they do not hold a role in society that commands respect or authority.

In societies where such prejudices prevail, a woman with a remarkable career in business life hardly finds acceptance. Generally, women are regarded as people who lack self-confidence and determination, and who have poor intellectual faculties. This rationalization of a "woman-stereotype" in society wrongly serves as an explanation for every mistake a woman makes. In reality, such mistakes are not peculiar to women but are universal among human beings.

Among candidates applying for job vacancies, men are usually favored over women, even if they possess exactly the same backgrounds, intelligence and skills. This tendency explains why there are limited opportunities available to women in business life.

On the other hand, the majority of women identify with this image attributed to them. This identification makes them readily assume the inferior roles assigned to them in many societies.

Prejudices in social life towards gender differences have striking consequences in underdeveloped countries. Let alone their entitlement to education and work, they are even deprived of making their own decisions about marriage. All sorts of women's personal decisions rest either with their fathers or husbands.

There is an on-going effort to provide solutions to these flawed implementations only a few of which have been included here. Associations founded to protect women's rights, concepts such as freedom and equality or the feminist movement or seminars, panels and discussions have not contributed much towards a workable solution. All these efforts prove that these solutions inherently breed more complications. This is a natural consequence since the real solution, as in all other domains, is unique: adherence to the Qur'an.

In a society adhering to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, no prejudicial distinction is made between the individuals of a society whether women, men, wealthy, poor, young or old. Social standing, profession, wealth, or gender do not make people enjoy particular privileges. The good deeds one engages in and one's fear of Allah distinguish one, as is alluded to in the verse "Take provision, but the best provision is fear of Allah." (Surat al-Baqara: 197) In the Qur'an, people are not classified prejudicially as men or women. Allah addresses both men and women having faith in Him and engaging in good deeds. Allah stresses the importance of living by the values He commands. In that respect, being male or female has no significance. Some of the verses stressing this are as follows:

The men and women of the believers are friends of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is wrong and perform prayer and give the alms, and obey Allah and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. Allah has promised the men and women of the believers Gardens with rivers flowing under them, remaining in them timelessly, for ever, and fine dwellings in the Gardens of Eden. And Allah's good pleasure is even greater. That is the great victory. (Surat at-Tawba: 71-72)

Men and women who are Muslims, men and women who are believers, men and women who are obedient, men and women who are truthful, men and women who are steadfast, men and women who are humble, men and women who give in charity, men and women who fast, men and women who guard their private parts, men and women who remember Allah much: Allah has prepared forgiveness for them and an immense reward. (Surat al-Ahzab: 35)

Anyone, male or female, who does right actions and is a believer, will enter the Garden. They will not be wronged by so much as the tiniest speck. (Surat an-Nisa': 124)


The Trouble Women Suffer in Social Life

In societies distant from religion, women encounter many difficulties, and, in particular, those experienced after a divorce deserve special mention. A divorce creates many problems for a woman who has been prevented from working by her husband and hence has come to depend economically upon him.

That the majority of women do not have a profession, that they are not young enough to go to work or that they are not entitled to any social rights make conditions hard for divorced women. The additional benefits divorcing parties demand from each other and their insistence on pursuing their own interests contribute to conflicts between the parties and make the situation even worse.

In a society of believers, however, people do not go through such trouble when they adhere to the Qur'an and the Sunnah. The respect and love felt at the beginning of a marriage is not lost when the parties decide to terminate their marriage since it is done by mutual consent. This attitude is consequent upon the rationale that parties do not perceive each another merely as a man or a woman but as human beings having faith in Allah, and thus Allah's most elevated creation. This attitude maintains courtesy after a divorce. 

There are many measures taken in the Qur'an securing a woman's rights after divorce. The ones pertaining to her economic situation maintain the welfare of a divorced woman. The following verses inform us about the benefits and monetary assistance specified by the mutual consent of both parties as well as the treatment due a woman after separation:

Divorced women should receive maintenance given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all who are righteous. (Surat al-Baqara: 241)

... Give them a gift – he who is wealthy according to his means and he who is less well off according to his means – a gift to be given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all good-doers. If you divorce them before you have touched them but have already allotted them a dowry, they should have half the amount which you allotted, unless they forgo it or the one in charge of the marriage contract forgoes it. To forgo it is closer to heedfulness. Do not forget to show generosity to one another. Allah sees what you do. (Surat al-Baqara: 236-237)

He who has plenty should spend out from his plenty, but he whose provision is restricted should spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not demand from any self more than He has given it. Allah will appoint after difficulty, ease. (Surat at-Talaq: 7)

Again from the verses, we know that, after the divorce, it is not lawful for a man to keep anything he had given to his wife during the marriage. All needs of a divorced woman related to housing are also guaranteed during the 'iddah (waiting) period after the divorce. According to the Qur'an, it is also unlawful to inherit women by force.

What has been related so far reveals that adhering to the Qur'an brings solutions. In a society where people live by the Qur'an, women are not subjected to maltreatment and dishonored as in other societies.

2010-11-27 21:29:13

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