Most Muslims speak with pride in pointing out that women received certain rights at the time the Quran was revealed to Prophet Mohammad.
Just over a hundred years ago, in England, in 1850, women were finally allowed the right to own property. In 1857, divorce became accessible by the formation of the court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes. Muslim women have had these rights for fourteen hundred years.
However, in practical terms, in today's Islamic world, the majority of women are treated by men as second class citizens. As mentioned in a previous article, such a status for women is not attributable to the laws in the Quran but to religious laws other than the Quran. This is in spite of the fact, that the Quran came to us through Prophet Mohammad's mouth and that God informs us in the Quran, that it is complete, perfect, fully detailed and the only source of religious law for the submitters (Muslims). An attempt will be made in this article to give some examples, inshallah, to display the great disparity between what the Quran advocates versus accepted practices, which have given women the low status in Muslim countries.
EQUALITY OF MEN & WOMEN
[3:195] Their Lord responded to them: 'I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female - you are equal to one another. Thus, those who immigrate, and get evicted from their homes, and are persecuted because of Me, and fight and get killed, I will surely remit their sins and admit them into gardens with flowing streams.' Such is the reward from God. God possesses the ultimate reward.
[9:71] The believing men and women are allies of one another. They advocate righteousness and forbid evil, they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and they obey God and His messenger. These will be showered by God's mercy. God is Almighty, Most Wise.
[9:72] God promises the believing men and the believing women gardens with flowing streams, wherein they abide forever, and magnificent mansions in the gardens of Eden. And God's blessings and approval are even greater. This is the greatest triumph.
[33:35] The submitting men, the submitting women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient women, the truthful men, the truthful women, the steadfast men, the steadfast women, the reverent men, the reverent women, the charitable men, the charitable women, the fasting men, the fasting women, the chaste men, the chaste women, and the men who commemorate God frequently, and the commemorating women; God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense.
RELIGIOUS LAWS NEVER AUTHORIZED BY God
The Quran prohibits even Prophet Mohammad from issuing any religious teachings other than the Quran or explaining the Quran in verses 69:43-47 and 75:16-19. The religious scholars, however, in defiance of the Quran have created religious laws never authorized by God.
The following verse deals specifically and only with sexual intercourse during menstruation. However, most women through teachings of the scholars abstain from their daily religious practices (fasting, salat) during menstruation. "They ask you about menstruation: say, 'It is harmful; you shall avoid sexual intercourse with the women during menstruation; do not approach them until they are rid of it. Once they are rid of it, you may have intercourse with them in the manner designed by God. God loves the repenters, and He loves those who are clean.'" 2:222
[33:59] O prophet, tell your wives, your daughters, and the wives of the believers that they shall lengthen their garments. Thus, they will be recognized (as righteous women) and avoid being insulted. God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
[24:30] Tell the believing men that they shall subdue their eyes (and not stare at the women), and to maintain their chastity. This is purer for them. God is fully Cognizant of everything they do.
[24:31] And tell the believing women to subdue their eyes, and maintain their chastity. They shall not reveal any parts of their bodies, except that which is necessary. They shall cover their chests, and shall not relax this code in the presence of other than their husbands,.....They shall not strike their feet when they walk in order to shake and reveal certain details of their bodies. All of you shall repent to God, O you believers, that you may succeed.
The verses quoted above are the only verses in the Quran giving the dress code for women - to lengthen the garments and to cover the chest. The Muslims of today have created unreasonable dress code for women based on tradition and customs in the name of God and Islam. There is also, no mention in the Quran, that the head should be covered for men or women.
[4:3] If you deem it best FOR THE ORPHANS, you may marry their mothers - you may marry two, three, or four. If you fear lest you become unfair, then you shall be content with only one, or with what you already have. Additionally, you are thus more likely to avoid financial hardship.
[4:129] You can never be equitable in dealing with more than one wife, no matter how hard you try. Therefore, do not be so biased as to leave one of them hanging (neither enjoying marriage, nor left to marry someone else). If you correct this situation and maintain righteousness, God is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
Verse 4:3 makes it clear that the ONLY condition for polygamy is for the sake of orphans, while verse 4:129 discourages polygamy even for that one exception. A law which allows men to marry a second time without meeting the condition of orphans stands in violation of the Quran.
TAKING CERTAIN VERSES OUT OF CONTEXT
[2:282] O you who believe, when you transact a loan for any period, you shall write it down. An impartial scribe shall do the writing. No scribe shall refuse to perform this service, according to God's teachings. He shall write, while the debtor dictates the terms. He shall observe God his Lord and never cheat. If the debtor is mentally incapable, or helpless, or cannot dictate, his guardian shall dictate equitably. Two men shall serve as witnesses; if not two men, then a man and two women whose testimony is acceptable to all. Thus, if one woman becomes biased, the other will remind her. It is the obligation of the witnesses to testify when called upon to do so. Do not tire of writing the details, no matter how long, including the time of repayment. This is equitable in the sight of God, assures better witnessing, and eliminates any doubts you may have. Business transactions that you execute on the spot need not be recorded, but have them witnessed. No scribe or witness shall be harmed on account of his services. If you harm them, it would be wickedness on your part. You shall observe God, and God will teach you. God is Omniscient.
Financial transactions are the ONLY situations where two women may substitute for one man as witness. This is to guard against the real possibility that one witness may marry the other witness, and thus cause her to be biased. Unreasonable laws have been made and continue to be made abusing this verse, giving women a lower status in society.
WOMAN AS LEADERS
One of the major controversial issues in Islam to those who do not know Islam is where is the woman's role in the political system. Can a woman take the leadership role? Is it prohibited?
The answer will be different if you look at the book of God, the Quran, or if you look at the book of man, the Hadiths that was written about 250 years after the Prophet's death.
When God tells us a story in he Quran, He does not do so just for entertaining us, but to learn a lesson. "We narrate to you the most accurate history through the revelation of this Quran. Before this, you were totally unaware." 12:3 "In their history, there is a lesson for those who possess intelligence......" 12:111
The role of an important woman in the history of the world as much as Muslims are concerned is the story Belquees, the Queen of Sheba. See 27:22-44. God mentioned her history in the Quran to let us know that a woman in a ruling position is not offensive as far as God is concerned. She represented a democratic ruler who consulted with her people before making important decisions, See 27:29. She visited Solomon, talked to him, made decisions for herself and her people, not hiding behind walls , or shying behind another man.
After witnessing what God gave Solomon, she became a submitter (Muslim), while still the Queen of Sheba.
[27:44] She was told, "Go inside the palace." When she saw its interior, she thought it was a pool of water, and she (pulled up her dress) exposing her legs. He said, "This interior is now paved with crystal." She said, "MY LORD, I HAVE WRONGED MY SOUL. I NOW SUBMIT WITH SOLOMON TO God, LORD OF THE UNIVERSE."
Here we witness one of the first Muslim women in charge of a nation, ruling them as a queen of Sheba. Do we learn a lesson from the Quran ? we should. The lesson is that God in the Quran never put restriction on a woman in a ruling position. These days we have two Muslim women in position of power, the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Turkey.
Belief in God mandates that we believe God. God has stated in his proven, final scripture, the Quran, that it is complete, fully detailed and the only source of religious guidance. As submitters (Muslims) we have to accept God's assertion and look to Quran and God for guidance.