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Updated: 09 Apr 16

Mohammed was a liberal in his time. He treated his wives, and women in general, with more respect than was customary in his day. For that he should be saluted. Where Islam failed is in his example of moving forward in respect to women with time.

But times change, and that is our concern here. While women in many countries have advanced to equal or nearly equal status as men, the nations of Islam remain stuck in the Seventh Century. Check out the following references for yourself. Although interpretations will legitimately vary, none would go as far as many modern secular states do.

Islamic teachings regarding women depend strongly on the Qur'an and hadith.

Some strong Islamic women have positive messages follow:
A gift from Iran: Shirin Ibadi, winner of 2003 Nobel Peace Prize!

Also known as Shirin Ebadi, Ibadi is a woman lawyer, writer and university lecturer who won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. She is a consummate conciliator via dialogue and the first Muslim woman to win the prize. We offer our congratulations. We also admire her courage in an environment often hostile to her ideas.

A gift from Uganda via Canada:
Irshad Manji -- Toronto Globe and Mail, has described Irshad as "...the media-savvy voice of a new generation..."

I have to be honest with you. Islam is on very thin ice with me... Through our screaming self-pity and our conspicuous silences, we Muslims are conspiring against ourselves. We're in a crisis and we're dragging the rest of the world with us. If ever there was a moment for an Islamic reformation, it's now. Irshad Manji.

Other links to the world of women of Islam:

Indispensability of Hadith Sunnah and Hadith
Institute for the Secularization of Islamic Society
Islam versus Judeo-Christian Sherif Abdel Azeem
Manual on Women's Rights Islam for Today; Barbara Crossette
Muslim Refusenik Irshad Manji. "As a longtime broadcaster and public affairs talk-show host on Canadian television, Ms. Manji, prominent, articulate and telegenic, with a rapid-fire delivery, has a ready platform for her ideas"--New York Times.
Pakistan Christian Science Monitor
Position of Women in Islam Light of Life
Woman at Point Zero Egyptian Novel: "...a lifetime rife with abuse, oppression, abandonment, being taken advantage of on all levels, and of consistent rejection by nearly every human she encountered from child to adulthood." Nawal El Sadaawi
Women in a Qur'anic Society Jannah.Org
Women in Islam Islam For Today

Women elsewhere in the world:

Global Fund For Women Global Fund for Women, supporting women's rights organizations around the world.
On Sinai Bedouin Women Ann Gardner
Sex Trade in Modern Times www.asylumsupport
Women Slavery in the Caribbean
Women, Spirit and Peace Sandy Miranda

Asian Women in Troublesome Situations:

Battered Women
Domestic Hotlines
Get Help
We Speak Your Language

You can find disparate views and approaches in the above links. Each site of course believes its position is most correct and objective. Many go (in the liberal direction) beyond the literal readings of the Qur'an and Hadith. This may be simply a trend similar to the Women's Consciousness-Raising Movement in the West. We believe this is a healthy trend and may in fact be one more piece of a Reformation.

Several books in the "Must Read" category written by women about women include:

Army of Roses Barbara Victor
The Trouble with Islam Irshad Manji

Important books by women on terror, war, citizenship or Islam include:

A History of God Karen Armstrong
A Human Being Died that Night Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela
A Problem From Hell: Samantha Power
Between Jihad and Salaam: Joyce M Davis
Bushwhacked: Molly Ivins and Lou Dibose
Bible and the Sword: Barbara Tuchman
Holy War: Karen Armstrong
In Our Defense: Ellen Alderman & Caroline Kennedy
Islam: Karen Armstrong
Martyrs: Joyce M Davis
Naked In Baghdad: Anne Garrels
Political Fictions: Joan Didion
Risking Utopia: Irshad Manji
Shrub: Molly Ivins and Lou Dibose
Study of Revenge: Lauri Mylroie
Terror in the Name of God: Jessica Stern
The Future and Its Enemies: Virginia Postrel
The New Nuclear Danger: Helen Caldicott
The Ultimate Terrorists: Jessica Stern

Jessica Stern and Irshad Manji provide pointed first-hand accounts.

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The Qur'an is the the last word for Muslims. Therefore, we have collected some of the references made in it about women. While certain rights are defined for women, they are clearly held to be inferior to men and to have fewer privileges. The Qur'an says it must be so. Our reference here is "The Qur'an," translated into English by M. H. Shakir. A number of passages from the twelfth edition follow in the order of their appearance:

2-222 "And they ask you about menstruation. Say: it is a discomfort; therefore, keep aloof from the women during the menstrual discharge and do not go near them until they have become clean; then when they have cleansed themselves, go in to them as Allah has commanded you; surely Allah loves those who turn much (to him), and He loves those who purify themselves."

2-223 "Your wives are a tilth to you, so go into your tilth when you like, and do good beforehand for yourselves; and be careful (of your duty) to Allah, and know that you will meet Him, and give good news to the believers. (Webster, 1 Tilth: a tilling or being tilled; cultivation of land. 2 tilled land)."

2-228 "And divorced women should keep to themselves in waiting for three courses; and it is unlawful for them that they should conceal what Allah has created in their wombs, if they believe in Allah and the last day; and their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile if they wish for reconciliation; and they have rights similar to those against them in a just manner, and the men are a degree above them; and Allah is Mighty, Wise."

2-229 "Divorce may be (pronounced) twice; then keep them or let (them) go with kindness; and it is not lawful for you to take any part of what you have given them, unless you fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah; then if you fear that they cannot keep within the limits of Allah, there is no blame on them for what she gives up to become free thereby. These are the limits of Allah, so do not exceed them, and whosoever exceeds the limits of Allah these it is that are the unjust."

4-11 "Allah enjoins you concerning your children: The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females; then if they are more than two females, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased has left, and if there is one, she shall have the half; and as for his parents, each of them shall have the sixth of what he has left if he has a child, but if he has no child and (only) his two parents inherit him, then his mother shall have the third; but if he has brothers, then his mother shall have the sixth after (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah; Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise."

4-15 "And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witness against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them."

4-16 "And for the two who are guilty of indecency from among you, give them both a punishment; then if they repent and amend, turn aside from them; surely Allah is oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful."

4-20 "And if you wish to have (one) wife instead of another and if you have given one of them a heap of gold, then take not from it anything; would you take it by slandering (her) and (doing her) manifest wrong?"

4-24 "And all married women except those whom your right hands possess (this is) Allah's ordinance to you; and lawful for you are (all women) besides those, provided that you seek (them) with your property, taking (them) in marriage not committing fornication. Then as to those whom you profit by, give them their dowries as appointed; and there is no blame on you about what you mutually agree after what is appointed; surely Allah is Knowing, Wise."

4-34 "Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them; and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great."

4-128 "And if a woman fears ill usage or desertion on the part of her husband, there is no blame on them, if they effect a reconciliation between them, and reconciliation is better, and avarice has been made to be present in the (people's) minds; and if you do good (to others) and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is aware of what you do."

4-129 "And you have it not in your power to do justice between wives, even though you may wish (it), but be not disinclined (from one) with total disinclination, so that you leave her as it were in suspense; and if you effect a reconciliation and guard (against evil), then surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

4-130 "And if they separate, Allah will render them both free from want out of His ampleness, and Allah is Ample-giving and Wise."

24-6 "And (as for) those who accuse their wives and have no witness except for themselves, the evidence of one of these (should be taken) four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely of the truthful ones."

24-7 "And the fifth time that the curse of Allah be upon him if he is one of the liars."

24-8 "And it shall avert the Chastisement from her if she testify four times, bearing Allah to witness that he is most surely one of the liars."

24-9 "And the fifth (time) that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he is one of the truthful."

24-31 "And say to the believing women that they cast down their looks and guard their private parts and do not display their ornaments except what appears thereof, and let them wear their head-coverings over their bosoms, and not display their ornaments except to their husbands or their fathers, or the fathers of their husbands, or their sons, or the sons of their husband, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or those whom their right hands possess, or the male servants not having need (of women), or the children who have not attained knowledge of what is hidden of women; and let them not strike their feet so that what they hide of their ornaments may be known; and turn to Allah all of you, O believers! so that you may be successful."

24-60 "And (as for) women advanced in years who do not hope for a marriage, it is no sin for them if they put off their clothes without displaying their ornaments, and if they restrain themselves it is better for them; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing."

66-5 "Maybe, his Lord, if he divorce you, will give him in your place wives better than you, submissive, penitent, adorers, fasters, widows and virgins."

For a complete listing of each verse in the Qur'an that mentions women, see: Women in Islam.

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Some quotes from Hadith (Hadith: The Traditions of the Prophet)

(15). "Ibn Umar ra said that Rasulullah saw said : "Each of you is a guardian, and each of you will be asked about your guardianship. The leader is a guardian, and the man is a guardian over the people of his house, and the woman is a guardian over her husband's house and children. So each of you is a guardian, and each of you will be asked about your guardianship. (Bukhari, Muslim )"

(39) "It has been narrated on the authority of the authority of 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As ra that Rasulullah saw said: "The world is but a provision and the best provision of the world is a pious and virtuous woman . (Muslim)"

(43) "It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Hurairah ra that he heard Rasulullah saw as saying: "A believer must not bear enmity against a believing woman; if he dislikes one of her characteristics he will be pleased with another. (Muslim)"

(45) "It has been narrated on the authority of Amir ibn Ahwas Jashni ra that he heard Rasulullah saw say in his sermon on the occasion of the Farewell Pilgrimage. After praising and glorifying Allah swt, he admonished people: "Treat woman kindly, they are like captives in your hands, you do not owe anything else except them. In case they are guilty of open indecency, you may leave them alone in their beds and inflict slight punishment. If they are obedient to you,do not have recourse to anything else against them. You have your rights over your wives and they have their rights over you. Your rights is that they shall not permit anyone you dislike to enter your and their rights is that you should treat them well in the matter food and clothing. (Tirmidhi)"

(47) "It has been narrated on the authority of Umm Salama ra that Rasulullah saw said : "If a woman dies in a state when her husband is pleased with her, she will enter Paradise. (Tirmidhi)"

(48) "It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira ra that he heard Rasulullah saw as saying :" If I were to order anyone to prostrate himself before another, I would order a woman to prostrate herself before her husband. (Tirmidhi)

See also: THE HADITH OF MUHAMMED Sahih Bukhari. Sections from Volume 4 Book 52

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In Defense of Sharia Ali Ahmad
Sharia Law "Susie Steiner explains the Islamic legal system which has sentenced a Nigerian woman to be stoned to death."
Nigerian Muslims press for Sharia "Muslim leaders in the northern Nigerian state of Kano have vowed to push for the implementation of strict Islamic law with all the legal force at their disposal."
Punishment for Female Adultery "Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Sudan, and some of the northern states of Nigeria practice a very strict form of Sharia law [Death by stoning for example]. So do the states controlled by the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) party in Malaysia.'

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I dont agree at all.
Muslim women are given exactly the same amount of rights as men but all in different areas. I am a practising Muslim woman and I strictly follow the Quran and Sunna and I do not feel suppressed or opressed in any manner.
Men are not superior to women in Islam, they have more responsibilty.

Posted by mizzle on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 07:51:32

Thanks for your comment. This needs some dialogue.

Could you please expand a bit on this important issue? For example, why do so many nations in the Middle East get a bad rap over their treatment of women? How can anyone interpret the news of school girls being forced back into their burning school to perish as equality? Was that the work of extremists, the religious police, did the girls die voluntarily, or what? How many Islamic nations allow women to vote?

Having asked these questions, we are also sure that are many people like you in the world of Islam -- good people of faith who help others in many ways. Did we misquote the Qu'ran anywhere? If not what is the context for equality?

Finally, why do men in Islam have more responsibility? Does that make sense in a modern world? We can also ask women the questiom: "What is our single most important responsibility as human beings?" If raising healthy children is the answer, then women may have a few things to teach the rest of us. Women just may be the most important resource humanity has, and perhaps some societies understand that in ways Americans do not. This needs some dialogue.

Posted by RoadToPeace on Friday, October 28, 2005 at 19:13:22

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