Are men and women equal in Islam?
Are men and women equal in Islam?
Introduction
The call for equality between men and women dates back to Plato who, according to Elaine Hoffman Baruch, “[argued] for the total political and sexual equality of women, advocating that they be members of his highest class, those who rule and fight”. In the present era, different marches, campaigns, activities and programs are organized to support ‘equal rights’ for women. Activists of various backgrounds assumed the mantle of liberating women from oppression and inequality. Examining how different societies treated women through different historical periods shows that women have experienced different forms of oppression, brutality and inequality. They have also been denied some of their basic human rights stipulated forth in different constitutions. Inequality can result from a number of factors including, but not limited to, society, culture, and religion.
Be they local, regional or international, women’s movements galvanize activists to towards granting equality for women. Political, social and economic equality remains the main theme of most marches, campaigns or activities organized to promote women’s rights. In its general meaning, equality between men and women has always been challenged by the difference in gender, society, culture or religion.
The following sheds light on the notion of equality (some may refer to it as justice) between women and men in Islam:
1.         Equality in humanity:
Women and men alike have feelings, personal status, and special characters, Allah says:
“O mankind! fear your Guardian Lord, Who created you from a single person” [Quran, 4:1]
“O mankind” here includes men and women.
(and from him (Adam) He created his wife [Hawwa (Eve)], and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) . Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you.)
[Quran, 4:1]
2.      Equality in all religious duties:
In Islam, women and men have equal religious duties. Allah says:
“Verily, the Muslim men and women, the believing men and women, the men and the women who are obedient (to Allah), the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allah), the men and the women who give Sadaqat (i.e. Zakat, and alms, etc.), the men and the women who observe Saum (fast), the men and the women who guard their chastity and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).”
[Quran, 3:35]
“Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer verily, to him We will give a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).”
[Quran, 16:97]
“So their Lord accepted of them (their supplication and answered them), “Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female. You are (members) one of another”
[Quran, 3:195]
3.      Women are charged with special assignments:
Prophet Mohammed said:
…The woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husband’s house and his offspring. [Agreed upon]
4.      Equality in Rewards and Punishments
Men and women have similar rewards for obedience and penalties for disobedience in this world and the Hereafter. Allah says:
“Whoever does righteous acts, whether male or female, while he is a believer, verily, to him We will give a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.”
[Quran, 16:97]
 (Surely for men who submit to Allah and for women who submit to Allah, for believing men and for believing women, for devout men and devout women, for truthful men and truthful women, for steadfast men and steadfast women, for humble men and humble women, for charitable men and charitable women, for fasting men and fasting women, for men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, for men who remember Allah much and for women who remember Allah much, for all of them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a mighty reward.)
[Quran, 33:35]
5.      Equality in honor and nobility
Women are equal to men regarding chastity, integrity and personal honor and respect. For instance, those who falsely accuse a chaste woman of adultery or fornication are publicly punished, just as if a man is slandered. Allah says:
“And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and reject their testimony forever. Indeed, they are those who are disobedient to Allah.”
[Quran, 24:4]

6.      The best of you is the best to his women

In Islam, a man who honors, respects and deals with women justly, is considered righteous. A man who mistreats women is unrighteous. The Prophet of Allah said:

The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character. And the best of you are those who are best to their women.”(At-Tirmidhi and authenticated by Al-Albani)

7.      Equality in social responsibilities

Men and women have similar responsibilities to reform societies. They are to enjoin good and forbid evil equally. Allah says:
(The believers, men and women, are helpers, supporters, friends and protectors of one another, they enjoin all that is good, and forbid all that is evil, they offer their prayers perfectly, and give Zakah (Obligatory Charity) and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bestow Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.)
[Quran, 9:71]
For other topics related to women rights, please visit the section on women in our website www.islambasics.org.