Women's Rights in Islaam

The Muslim woman has been bestowed with many rights by Allaah Almighty, and it is of great importance in Da'wah that she - the Muslim woman - familiarises herself with the rights that Islaam has blessed her with. Not only will she, herself, then appreciate Islaam more, but in the eyes of those people who think she is 'oppressed' and without rights, she will be able to effectively prove their views wrong. So much so that many of their women, when realising the rights Islaam has given the Muslim woman, will feel envious of her dignified position in Islaam.

The difference between the Biblical and the Qur'anic conceptions of women is not limited to the newly born female, it extends far beyond that. Let us compare their attitudes towards a female trying to learn her religion. The heart of Judaism is the Torah, the law. However, according to the Talmud,

"women are exempt from the study of the Torah."

Some Jewish Rabbis firmly declared,

"let the words of Torah rather be destroyed by fire than imparted to women",


"whoever teaches his daughter Torah is as though he taught her obscenity." [Denise L. Carmody, Judaism, in Arvind Sharma, ed., op. cit., p. 197]

The attitude of St. Paul in the New Testament is not brighter:

"As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church." [I Corinthians 14:34-35]

How can a woman learn if she is not allowed to speak? How can a woman grow intellectually if she is obliged to be in a state of full submission? How can she broaden her horizons if her one and only source of information is her husband at home?

Now, to be fair, we should ask: is the Qur'anic position any different? One short story narrated in the Qur'an sums its position up concisely. Khawlah was a Muslim woman whose husband Aws pronounced this statement at a moment of anger:

"You are to me as the back of my mother."

This was held by pagan Arabs to be a statement of divorce which freed the husband from any conjugal responsibility but did not leave the wife free to leave the husband's home or to marry another man. Having heard these words from her husband, Khawlah was in a miserable situation. She went straight to the Prophet of Islam to plead her case. The Prophet was of the opinion that she should be patient since there seemed to be no way out. Khawla kept arguing with the Prophet in an attempt to save her suspended marriage. Shortly, the Qur'an intervened; Khawla's plea was accepted. The divine verdict abolished this iniquitous custom. One full chapter (Chapter 58) of the Qur'an whose title is al-Mujadilah or "The woman who is arguing" was named after this incident:

"Allah has heard and accepted the statement of the woman who pleads with you (the Prophet) concerning her husband and carries her complaint to Allah, and Allah hears the arguments between both of you for Allah hears and sees all things ... " [Al-Qur'an 58:1]

A woman in the Qur'anic conception has the right to argue even with the Prophet of Islam himself. No one has the right to instruct her to be silent. She is under no obligation to consider her husband the one and only reference in matters of law and religion.

In fact, the difference between the Biblical and the Qur'anic attitude towards the female sex starts as soon as a female is born. For example, the Bible states that the period of the mother's ritual impurity is twice as long if a girl is born than if a boy is (Lev. 12:2-5). The Catholic Bible states explicitly that:

"The birth of a daughter is a loss." [Ecclesiasticus 22:3]
In contrast to this shocking statement, boys receive special praise:
"A man who educates his son will be the envy of his enemy." [Ecclesiasticus 30:3]
Jewish Rabbis made it an obligation on Jewish men to produce offspring in order to propagate the race. At the same time, they did not hide their clear preference for male children:
"It is well for those whose children are male but ill for those whose are female",
"At the birth of a boy, all are joyful...at the birth of a girl all are sorrowful", and
"When a boy comes into the world, peace comes into the world ... When a girl comes, nothing comes." [Swidler, op. cit., p. 140]
A daughter is considered a painful burden, a potential source of shame to her father:
"Your daughter is headstrong? Keep a sharp look-out that she does not make you the laughing stock of your enemies, the talk of the town, the object of common gossip, and put you to public shame." [Ecclesiasticus 42:11]
"Keep a headstrong daughter under firm control, or she will abuse any indulgence she receives. Keep a strict watch on her shameless eye, do not be surprised if she disgraces you." [Ecclesiasticus 26:10-11]
It was this very same idea of treating daughters as sources of shame that led the pagan Arabs, before the advent of Islam, to practice female infanticide. The Qur'an severely condemned this heinous practice: "When news is brought to one of them of the birth of a female child, his face darkens and he is filled with inward grief. With shame does he hide himself from his people because of the bad news he has had! Shall he retain her on contempt or bury her in the dust? Ah! what an evil they decide on?" [Al-Qur'an 16:59]
It has to be mentioned that this sinister crime would have never stopped in Arabia were it not for the power of the scathing terms the Qur'an used to condemn this practice [in verse 16:59, 43:17 and 81:8-9]. The Qur'an, moreover, makes no distinction between boys and girls. In contrast to the Bible, the Qur'an considers the birth of a female as a gift and a blessing from God, the same as the birth of a male. The Qur'an even mentions the gift of the female birth first: "To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female children to whomever He wills and bestows male children to whomever He wills" [Al-Qur'an 42:49]
In order to wipe out all the traces of female infanticide in the nascent Muslim society, Prophet Muhammad promised those who were blessed with daughters of a great reward if they would bring them up kindly: "He who is involved in bringing up daughters, and accords benevolent treatment towards them, they will be protection for him against Hell-Fire." [Agreed upon]
"Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Resurrection Day like this; and he joined his fingers." [Recorded by Imam Muslim]


Five years ago, I read in the Toronto Star issue of July 3, 1990 an article titled "Islam is not alone in patriarchal doctrines", by Gwynne Dyer. The article described the furious reactions of the participants of a conference on women and power held in Montreal to the comments of the famous Egyptian feminist Dr. Nawal Saadawi. Her "politically incorrect" statements included:
"the most restrictive elements towards women can be found first in Judaism in the Old Testament then in Christianity and then in the Qur'an"; "all religions are patriarchal because they stem from patriarchal societies"; and "veiling of women is not a specifically Islamic practice but an ancient cultural heritage with analogies in sister religions".
The participants could not bear sitting around while their faiths were being equated with Islam. Thus, Dr. Saadawi received a barrage of criticism.
"Dr. Saadawi's comments are unacceptable. Her answers reveal a lack of understanding about other people's faiths," declared Bernice Dubois of the World Movement of Mothers.

"I must protest" said panellist Alice Shalvi of Israel's women network, "there is no conception of the veil in Judaism."
The article attributed these furious protests to the strong tendency in the West to scapegoat Islam for practices that are just as much a part of the West's own cultural heritage.
"Christian and Jewish feminists were not going to sit around being discussed in the same category as those wicked Muslims," wrote Gwynne Dyer.
booksshelvesI was not surprised that the conference participants had held such a negative view of Islam, especially when women's issues were involved. In the West, Islam is believed to be the symbol of the subordination of women par excellence. In order to understand how firm this belief is, it is enough to mention that the Minister of Education in France, the land of Voltaire, has recently ordered the expulsion of all young Muslim women wearing the veil from French schools! [The Globe and Mail, Oct. 4, 1994.] A young Muslim student wearing a headscarf is denied her right of education in France, while a Catholic student wearing a cross or a Jewish student wearing a skullcap is not. The scene of French policemen preventing young Muslim women wearing headscarves from entering their high school is unforgettable. It inspires the memories of another equally disgraceful scene of Governor George Wallace of Alabama in 1962 standing in front of a school gate trying to block the entrance of black students in order to prevent the desegregation of Alabama's schools. The difference between the two scenes is that the black students had the sympathy of so many people in the U.S. and in the whole world. President Kennedy sent the U.S. National Guard to force the entry of the black students. The Muslim girls, on the other hand, received no help from any one. Their cause seems to have very little sympathy either inside or outside France. The reason is the widespread misunderstanding and fear of anything Islamic in the world today.
What intrigued me the most about the Montreal conference was one question: Were the statements made by Saadawi, or any of her critics, factual? In other words, do Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the same conception of women? Are they different in their conceptions? Do Judaism and Christianity, truly, offer women a better treatment than Islam does? What is the truth?
It is not easy to search for and find answers to these difficult questions. The first difficulty is that one has to be fair and objective or, at least, do one's utmost to be so. This is what Islam teaches. The Qur'an has instructed Muslims to say the truth even if those who are very close to them do not like it:
"Whenever you speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned." [Al-Qur'an 6:152]
"O you who believe stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor." [Al-Qur'an 4:135]
The other great difficulty is the overwhelming breadth of the subject. Therefore, during the last few years, I have spent many hours reading the Bible, The Encyclopaedia of Religion, and the Encyclopaedia Judaica searching for answers. I have also read several books discussing the position of women in different religions written by scholars, apologists, and critics. The material presented in the following chapters represents the important findings of this humble research. I don't claim to be absolutely objective. This is beyond my limited capacity. All I can say is that I have been trying, throughout this research, to approach the Qur'anic ideal of "speaking justly".
I would like to emphasize in this introduction that my purpose for this study is not to denigrate Judaism or Christianity. As Muslims, we believe in the divine origins of both. No one can be a Muslim without believing in Moses and Jesus as great prophets of God. My goal is only to vindicate Islam and pay a tribute, long overdue in the West, to the final truthful Message from God to the human race. I would also like to emphasize that I concerned myself only with Doctrine. That is, my concern is, mainly, the position of women in the three religions as it appears in their original sources not as practised by their millions of followers in the world today. Therefore, most of the evidence cited comes from the Qur'an, the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, the Bible, the Talmud, and the sayings of some of the most influential Church Fathers whose views have contributed immeasurably to defining and shaping Christianity. This interest in the sources relates to the fact that understanding a certain religion from the attitudes and the behaviour of some of its nominal followers is misleading. Many people confuse culture with religion, many others do not know what their religious books are saying, and many others do not even care.


The three religions agree on one basic fact: Both women and men are created by God, The Creator of the whole universe. However, disagreement starts soon after the creation of the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. The Judaeo-Christian conception of the creation of Adam and Eve is narrated in detail in Genesis 2:4-3:24. God prohibited both of them from eating the fruits of the forbidden tree. The serpent seduced Eve to eat from it and Eve, in turn, seduced Adam to eat with her. When God rebuked Adam for what he did, he put all the blame on Eve,

"The woman you put here with me - she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it."

Consequently, God said to Eve:

"I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you."

To Adam He said:

"Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree .... Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life ... "

The Islamic conception of the first creation is found in several places in the Qur'an, for example:

"O Adam dwell with your wife in the Garden and enjoy as you wish but approach not this tree or you run into harm and transgression. Then Satan whispered to them in order to reveal to them their shame that was hidden from them and he said: 'Your Lord only forbade you this tree lest you become angels or such beings as live forever.' And he swore to them both that he was their sincere adviser. So by deceit he brought them to their fall: when they tasted the tree their shame became manifest to them and they began to sew together the leaves of the Garden over their bodies. And their Lord called unto them: 'Did I not forbid you that tree and tell you that Satan was your avowed enemy?' They said: 'Our Lord we have wronged our own souls and if You forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost' " [Al-Qur'an 7:19:23]

A careful look into the two accounts of the story of the Creation reveals some essential differences. The Qur'an, contrary to the Bible, places equal blame on both Adam and Eve for their mistake. Nowhere in the Qur'an can one find even the slightest hint that Eve tempted Adam to eat from the tree or even that she had eaten before him. Eve in the Qur'an is no temptress, no seducer, and no deceiver. Moreover, Eve is not to be blamed for the pains of childbearing. God, according to the Qur'an, punishes no one for another's faults. Both Adam and Eve committed a sin and then asked God for forgiveness and He forgave them both.


The image of Eve as temptress in the Bible has resulted in an extremely negative impact on women throughout the Judaeo-Christian tradition. All women were believed to have inherited from their mother, the Biblical Eve, both her guilt and her guile. Consequently, they were all untrustworthy, morally inferior, and wicked. Menstruation, pregnancy, and childbearing were considered the just punishment for the eternal guilt of the cursed female sex. In order to appreciate how negative the impact of the Biblical Eve was on all her female descendants we have to look at the writings of some of the most important Jews and Christians of all time. Let us start with the Old Testament and look at excerpts from what is called the Wisdom Literature in which we find:

"I find more bitter than death the woman who is a snare, whose heart is a trap and whose hands are chains. The man who pleases God will escape her, but the sinner she will ensnare....while I was still searching but not finding, I found one upright man among a thousand but not one upright woman among them all." [Ecclesiastes 7:26-28]

In another part of the Hebrew literature which is found in the Catholic Bible we read:

"No wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman.....Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die." [Ecclesiasticus 25:19,24]

Jewish Rabbis listed nine curses inflicted on women as a result of the Fall:

"To the woman He gave nine curses and death: the burden of the blood of menstruation and the blood of virginity; the burden of pregnancy; the burden of childbirth; the burden of bringing up the children; her head is covered as one in mourning; she pierces her ear like a permanent slave or slave girl who serves her master; she is not to be believed as a witness; and after everything--death." [Leonard J. Swidler, Women in Judaism: the Status of Women in Formative Judaism, Metuchen, N.J: Scarecrow Press, 1976, p. 115]

To the present day, orthodox Jewish men in their daily morning prayer recite:

"Blessed be God King of the universe that Thou has not made me a woman."

The women, on the other hand, thank God every morning for,

"making me according to Thy will." [Thena Kendath, Memories of an Orthodox youth in Susannah Heschel, ed. On being a Jewish Feminist, New York: Schocken Books, 1983, pp. 96-97]

Another prayer found in many Jewish prayer books:

"Praised be God that he has not created me a gentile. Praised be God that he has not created me a woman. Praised be God that he has not created me an ignoramus." [Swidler, op. cit., pp. 80-81]

The Biblical Eve has played a far bigger role in Christianity than in Judaism. Her sin has been pivotal to the whole Christian faith because the Christian conception of the reason for the mission of Jesus Christ on Earth stems from Eve's disobedience to God. She had sinned and then seduced Adam to follow her suit. Consequently, God expelled both of them from Heaven to Earth, which had been cursed because of them. They bequeathed their sin, which had not been forgiven by God, to all their descendants and, thus, all humans are born in sin. In order to purify human beings from their 'original sin', God had to sacrifice Jesus, who is considered to be the Son of God, on the cross. Therefore, Eve is responsible for her own mistake, her husband's sin, the original sin of all humanity, and the death of the Son of God. In other words, one woman acting on her own caused the fall of humanity. [Rosemary R. Ruether, Christianity, in Arvind Sharma, ed., Women in World Religions, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987, p. 209] What about her daughters? They are sinners like her and have to be treated as such. Listen to the severe tone of St. Paul in the New Testament:

"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I don't permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner." [I Timothy 2:11-14]

St. Tertullian was even more blunt than St. Paul, while he was talking to his 'best beloved sisters' in the faith, he said:

"Do you not know that you are each an Eve? The sentence of God on this sex of yours lives in this age: the guilt must of necessity live too. You are the Devil's gateway: You are the unsealer of the forbidden tree: You are the first deserter of the divine law: You are she who persuaded him whom the devil was not valiant enough to attack. You destroyed so easily God's image, man. On account of your desert even the Son of God had to die." [For all the sayings of the prominent Saints, see Karen Armstrong, The Gospel According to Woman, London: Elm Tree Books, 1986, pp. 52-62. See also Nancy van Vuuren, The Subversion of Women as Practiced by Churches, Witch-Hunters, and Other Sexists, Philadelphia: Westminister Press, pp. 28-30]

St. Augustine was faithful to the legacy of his predecessors, he wrote to a friend:

"What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman ... I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children."

Centuries later, St. Thomas Aquinas still considered women as defective:

"As regards the individual nature, woman is defective and misbegotten, for the active force in the male seed tends to the production of a perfect likeness in the masculine sex; while the production of woman comes from a defect in the active force or from some material indisposition, or even from some external influence."

Finally, the renowned reformer Martin Luther could not see any benefit from a woman but bringing into the world as many children as possible regardless of any side effects:

"If they become tired or even die, that does not matter. Let them die in childbirth, that's why they are there."

Again and again all women are denigrated because of the image of Eve the temptress, thanks to the Genesis account. To sum up, the Judaeo-Christian conception of women has been poisoned by the belief in the sinful nature of Eve and her female offspring.

If we now turn our attention to what the Qur'an has to say about women, we will soon realize that the Islamic conception of women is radically different from the Judaeo-Christian one. Let the Qur'an speak for itself:

"For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise. For them all has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward." [Al-Qur'an 33:35]

"The believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil, they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His Mercy: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise." [Al-Qur'an 9:71]

"And their Lord answered them: Truly I will never cause to be lost the work of any of you, Be you a male or female, you are members one of another." [Al-Qur'an 3:195]

"Whoever works evil will not be requited but by the like thereof, and whoever works a righteous deed -whether man or woman- and is a believer- such will enter the Garden of Bliss." [Al-Qur'an 40:40]

"Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him/her we will give a new life that is good and pure, and we will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions." [Al-Qur'an 16:97]

It is clear that the Qur'anic view of women is no different than that of men. They, both, are God's creatures whose sublime goal on earth is to worship their Lord, do righteous deeds, and avoid evil and they, both, will be assessed accordingly. The Qur'an never mentions that the woman is the devil's gateway or that she is a deceiver by nature. The Qur'an, also, never mentions that man is God's image; all men and all women are his creatures, that is all. According to the Qur'an, a woman's role on earth is not limited only to childbirth. She is required to do as many good deeds as any other man is required to do. The Qur'an never says that no upright women have ever existed. To the contrary, the Qur'an has instructed all the believers, women as well as men, to follow the example of those ideal women such as the Virgin Mary and the Pharoah's wife:

"And Allah sets forth, As an example to those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: 'O my lord build for me, in nearness to you, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings and save me from those who do wrong.' And Mary the daughter of Imran who guarded her chastity and We breathed into her body of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His revelations and was one of the devout." [Al-Qur'an 66:11-13]

The Political Aspect

book56Any fair investigation of the teachings of Islam, and into the history of the Islamic civilization, will surely find a clear evidence of woman's equality with man in what we call today "political rights".

This includes woman's right to participate in public affairs. Both in the Qur'an and in Islamic history we find examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself, (see Qur'an 58: 14 ,60: 10-12). During the Caliphate of 'Umar Ibn al-Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and caused him to declare in the presence of people,

"A woman is right and Omar is wrong."

Although not mentioned in the Qur'an, one Hadeeth of the Prophet is interpreted to make woman ineligible for the position of head of state. The Hadeeth referred to is roughly translated, "A people will not prosper if they let a woman be their leader." This limitation, however, has nothing to do with the dignity of woman or with her rights. It is rather, related to the natural differences in the biological and psychological make-up of men and women.

According to Islam, the head of the state is no mere figurehead. He leads people in the prayers, especially on Fridays and festivities; he is continuously engaged in the process of decision-making pertaining to the security and well-being of his people. This demanding position, or any similar one, such as the Commander of the Army, is generally inconsistent with the physiological and psychological make-up of woman in general. It is a medical fact that during their monthly periods and during their pregnancies, women undergo various physiological and psychological changes. Such changes may occur during an emergency situation, thus affecting her decision, without considering the excessive strain which is produced. Moreover, some decisions require a maximum of rationality and a minimum of emotionality - a requirement which does not coincide with the instinctive nature of women.

Even in modern times, and in the most developed countries, it is rare to find a woman in the position of a head of state acting as more than a figurehead, a woman commander of the armed services, or even a proportionate number of women representatives in parliaments, or similar bodies. One can not possibly ascribe this to backwardness of various nations or to any constitutional limitation on woman's right to be in such a position as a head of state or as a member of the parliament. It is more logical to explain the present situation in terms of the natural and indisputable differences between man and woman, a difference which does not imply any "supremacy" of one over the other. The difference implies rather the "complementary" roles of both the sexes in life.


sisteronlaptopIt is to this religion's credit that not only does it point out the dangers of life, but it offers practical solutions to them. One such area is that of modesty, which in the broadest sense means humility, restraint in manner and conduct, avoiding excess and presenting an unpretentious appearance. This is the way of life taught by the Qur’an and exemplified by the Prophet. In humanity, the worst crime after murder is Zina (adultery), and the punishment dictated by Islam for adultery is equal to that meted out for murder. This indicates the enormity of illicit sexual conduct and the disgust with which Islam views this crime. The reason behind the prohibition of adultery is not to "spoil the fun" for people, but because Zina is the cause of much social chaos, upheaval and suffering for individuals, families, societies and nations. Zina destroys the moral fibre of a person, creates an atmosphere of mistrust and deceit, and leads to the birth of illegitimate children who must bear the stigma of their birth. Pornography, prostitution, rape, abortions, divorce and single-parent families are the by products of Zina, as is now all too evident in Britain and other Western societies. Families are torn apart, diseases are spread and people's characters become twisted and distorted.

To protect the moral well-being of mankind, Islam lays down laws which restrict, if not stop, the things that may lead to Zina,

{And say to the believing women that They should lower their gaze and guard their modesty; that They should not display their beauty and ornaments except what (must ordinarily) appear thereof; that They should draw their veils over their bosoms and not display their beauty except to their husbands, their fathers, their husband's fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their women, or the slaves whom their right hands possess, or male servants free of physical needs, or small Children who have no sense of the shame of sex; and that They should not strike their feet In order to draw attention to their hidden ornaments. And O ye believers! Turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain bliss.} [an-Noor [24].30-31]

The free mixing of men and women from the time they become sexually aware to the time they are no longer sexually active is prohibited. On the face of it, this may appear rather harsh, but if we examine the effects of unrestricted contact between the sexes, the person who is blessed with understanding and insight will soon see the wisdom behind this restriction. Today, in the Western world, every type of crime that results from free mixing of the sexes is on the increase, Islamic modesty encompasses not only behaviour, but also dress. It is well-known that appearances count, and that clothes can make a "statement" about the person.

Muslims are required to dress modestly and conceal their private parts. The Qur’an reminds us that after the error committed by Adam and Eve, they became aware of their nakedness and shame, so clothing was given as a means of concealing the body:

{O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, As well As to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that They may receive admonition!} [al-A'raf 7:26; also see 24:31, 33.59]. The main aim of Hijab is for the pleasure of Allah.

Secondly, restrain individuals of the opposite sex from being unduly attracted to one another. However, Hijab has numerous other advantages that bring benefits to women. It gives women their own identity and their own sphere, which exists parallel to that of men. Women are thus freed from the strain of Western-style social pressure in which women are expected to look impeccable and sexually attractive at all times, and they are relieved of the "necessity" of spending large amounts of time and money in visiting beauty parlours and applying chemicals, lotions, potions and scents to their bodies for the purposes of gratifying men. Above all, it allows Muslim women to have an identity, an ability to express their personality and intellect of their own, independently of men's whims and desires. It is not easy to find accurate figures on rape. Many incidents are not reported, and the police statistics do not include cases where the allegations have been withdrawn. It is safe to assume, therefore, that the official figures are an underestimate.

According to the British police, in 1984 there were over 20,000 cases of indecent assault and nearly 1,500 rape cases in Britain. The London Rape Crisis Centre estimates that there are between 5,000 - 6,000 rapes per year; the true figure may be much higher. Since 1984, the number of recorded sexual offences has risen at a slightly higher rate than recorded crime in general. By 1994, the number of recorded sexual offences had risen to 32,000. If we accept the higher figures, we may say that, on average, one rape occurs every hour in England. In other words, by the time you finish reading this chapter, someone, somewhere in the country, will have become yet another rape statistic. The USA, a country proclaiming the greatest freedom of rights has the World's highest rape rate. It is 4 times higher than Germany, 18 times higher than England and almost 20 times higher than Japan. In one state of Utah alone the rape rate is 44.6 per 100,000. In 1995, 2,071 Utah children under the age of 18 were sexually abused: 633 of these children were under the age of 6. In the USA, 1.3 women are raped every minute. That equates to 78 rapes each hour, 1,872 rapes each day, and 683,280 rapes each year.

Looking at such figures, the question springs to mind: who is committing these barbaric acts against women? Are these the acts of mentally disturbed characters roaming the streets? The popular stereotype could not be further from the truth. In 1980, only 2% of men convicted of rape were referred for psychiatric treatment. The reality is shocking and disturbing: over 75% of women who are raped have had some prior contact with the man who raped them.3 They are raped by acquaintances, people they know and probably trusted. A close friend or relative rapes 16%. A study carried out by the National Council for Civil Liberties showed that 38% of men use their power and position at work to rape women. A Retook survey found that 88% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment at work. In the UK, 86% of managers and 66% of employers had experienced such problems. The British Civil Service found that 70% of those surveyed had experienced sexual harassment. In Britain, even in that bastion of law and order, the Police service, the problem of sexual harassment is serious. Female officers with twenty-five years service in the force may be subjected to harassment. Examples of offensive incidents include being spied on while in police stations showers, being "casually" shown pornographic pictures, and being physically groped. One female officer said,

"You go into a room and three or four men will run their hands over you to see if you are wearing the 'full tackle,' i.e., suspenders. It happens frequently".

Rape has a devastating emotional, mental and psychological impact on the victims and their families. USA census reports, 1.3 million currently have a mental disorder due to rape, called Rape Related Post Traumatic Disorder (RR-PTSD). 3.8 million in USA have previously had RR-PTSD, and roughly 211,000 women will develop RR-PTSD each year.

Social Position of Western Women Today

alpenglowWomen with children are still casually abandoned, as in former centuries. Now the phenomenon is known as "single parent families". Instead of going to market to purchase a woman, men now resort to prostitution, or even rape. In by-gone times, men murdered women they had no more use for (consider the blood lust of Henry VIII, founder of the Church of England, and how he disposed of some of his wives); nowadays women are driven towards drugs and alcohol, and ultimately kill themselves. This is labelled as "suicide", and saves men from doing the dirty deed themselves. The old Spartan way of having women "inseminated" by strong men, is now replaced by genetic engineering and artificial insemination via the sperm banks, which achieve the same thing under the auspices of science and technology, the "gods" of their modern age. All of this is regarded as Progress. According to popular belief, the twentieth century has seen the greatest advancement in equality for women. In particular, the period after the Second World War, from the late 1940s until the present, is hailed as a golden era. But during this period, atrocities of all kinds against women have increased by more than 25%.

A survey into the world of government statistics reflect a true picture of the plight of women in today's world. HEALTH When it comes to health matters, women fare less well than men, especially when it comes to mental health. Single mothers, in particular, suffer poorer health than women in two parent households. General Health Survey data indicate that lone mothers are more likely to have both long standing and recent illness, and are less likely to assess their health over the last twelve months as good. In this survey, only 43% of single mothers described their health as "good" and nearly 39% reported a long standing illness. Women also suffer poorer psychological health than men. They see their GPs (family doctors) more often for mental health problems, and are more frequently prescribed drugs for anxiety and depression. Women are more unwell and unhappy than men because of the work they do and the conditions in which they do it created by the capitalist system for the acquiring of profit margins. If you were to question a randomly picked sample of the population and ask them, "Who suffers more from mentally-related disorders?" The majority will reply: women.

However, this has not always been the case. Studies from 1850 until the Second World War show that men used to be more prone to mental disorders than women. In the majority of studies prior to 1950 or the Second World War, the overall rates were higher for men. In the case of women's mental health, the findings differ sharply from the 1950s onwards, with the advent of so called equal status. A report by B P Dohrenwend in the American Journal of Sociology shows that while prior to 1950, for every 7 men diagnosed as mentally ill, only 2 women were similarly diagnosed, after 1950, the ratio changed to 22 women for every 2 men. This catastrophic reversal in mental illness statistics accompanied the rise of "women's liberation" in the West. This increased incidence of mental illness among Western women since the Second World War has occurred because "... women find their position in society to be more frustrating and less rewarding than do men .."5 The reason for this greater sense of frustration may be found in the unfair burden which is placed on the "liberated" women She is expected to display masculine traits in the workplace, but is also supposed to maintain her "femininity" - a dual burden that is too heavy for many women, who may eventually break down. Mental illness researchers have also discovered that single persons are more prone to mental illness than those who are married, and their prognosis is not as good. As early as the turn of the century, Durkheim noted that the severing of the marital tie is particularly dangerous for mental health, as indicated by a high suicide rate among the widowed and divorced. Since that time, all studies' comparing the mental health of those who are widowed or divorced with that of those who are married have also found that the rates of mental illness are higher among the former. With the rise of the divorce rate, the prospect of women's mental health looks particularly poor.

Alcohol and Smoking

smokinglungsThe Western development of the equality of the sexes has been accompanied by an increase in the vices that were previously thought to be a male preserve, namely the consumption of alcohol and tobacco. According to a recent report published in the Sunday Times, the number of women drinking more than the "recommended limit" is rising. The survey shows that the number of men exceeding this limit has fallen to 26%, whilst the number of women doing so has risen to 12%.

Smoking used to be a men's vice, as for a long time it was deemed improper for women to smoke. However, the number of women who smoke is now more or less the same as the number of men who do so. Although anti-smoking campaigns have led to many adults quitting the habit, tobacco companies have responded by targeting younger people, on the premise that if they can get teenagers or children "hooked" they will continue to have a ready market for their product. Reports indicate that more young women than young men are starting to smoke, which indicates that in the near future the majority of smokers will be women.


The rapid growth of the pornographic industry since the 1950s has, again, mirrored the progress of "equality" in the West. Pornography does not present women as human beings with feelings and needs, but as mere available commodities to be used and cast aside. Women are led to believe that by selling their bodies, they are achieving equality, but in fact they become subordinate to men who use the idea of equality to exploit women for their own desires and financial gain. In the 1980s, a further step in the manipulation of women appeared. Sheila Jeffreys, a feminist, wrote:

"When the campaign against pornography first got underway, it was possible to attack pornography as a male product designed for male consumption. This is not true in the 1980s. Women are being told - by libertarian theorists that because 'women are equal now,' it is all right for women to enjoy pornography. This ideology serves more to defeat women's emancipation than to pander to it. The idea of selling pornography to women from the 1980s has become a more sophisticated and effective way of bolstering male power".

Pornography is the biggest media category world wide. It enters our homes via television and magazines, as well as video, film and satellite media. Globally, pornography generates $7 billion annually, more than the legitimate film and music industries combined. In the US, pornographic films gross $1 million daily, and outnumber films of other genres by 30%. In Britain, 20 million copies of pornographic magazines are sold each year, producing an annual revenue of over £500 million. In Sweden, a large "sex shop" may offer over 500 titles of pornographic magazines, and a corner shop can offer up to 50 titles. It is estimated that 18 million American men buy a pornographic magazine each month. Pornography throughout the world is becoming ever more violent and gruesome, and is spreading further via the new technology: pornography on the Internet, including "hard-core" and child pornography, is a growing problem worldwide.

The Western world is also exporting this deviant trend, which exploits women in the most abhorrent fashion, to the so-called third world. This is the state of affairs to which Western "civilization" and its Progress" and "equality" have brought humankind, where women are victimised in ever increasing numbers to vices and mistreatment that any sane person would abhor and seek to eliminate. To summarise, within the last hour the following have taken place in England: one woman was raped, eighteen people got divorced, 20 women had abortions, and 24 children were born to women without husbands. These same events will be repeated in the next hour, and in the hour after that. As you go through your daily routine of sleeping and waking, this sorry state of events will continue, and the number of victims will continue to escalate. What possible answer can there be? How can these barbaric crimes against women be reduced, if not eliminated altogether? The path of supposed equality between the sexes is only making the problem worse, and any sane person can see that the world is moving away from a civilized state towards a position of barbarity and ignorance (Jaahiliyyah). Very much like that which prevailed before the advent of Islam. In a society which considers itself to be at the forefront of civility and human concerns, how can the low standards of morality that prevail nowadays be accepted?

What are the solutions to these problems? For the people who are blessed with sincerity and understanding, there is no need to search far afield. Who better to guide, than the Creator of men and women, Allah Himself? When comparing Western practices to the values of Islam, it will soon be apparent where people have gone wrong and how Islam may steer people back on to the right path. The single most common cause of the problems discussed above is the fact that Western society encourages the free mixing of men and women. The natural modesty of one sex towards the other is regarded as backward, unfashionable and uncivilized. Any effort to retain a sense of modesty is immediately labelled as "oppressive" or "repressive". Yet considering the disastrous consequences of free mixing, from the above statistics, the appropriate course of behaviour to be undertaken is clear. Recent Psychologists reports agree that when there are two persons of opposite genders in enclosed surroundings, sexual ideas and connotations are bound to pass through their minds. The casual and frequent manner in which such encounters are allowed to occur in an atmosphere of free mixing sets the stage for most of the calamities suffered by women today.

Acting upon these impulses leads to all the woes of modern society: Abortion, divorce, single parent families, suicide, rape and all the other heart breaking social ills. Fourteen hundred years ago, the Prophet Muhammad warned humanity about the hazards of free mixing and advised extreme caution. In this matter, he informed us that when a man and a woman are alone together, the third one present will be the Shaytan (Satan), working to implant mischief between the two. As stated earlier, 75% of all rapes are committed by men who know their victims personally. In the workplace, 38% of men in positions of power abuse their position to take advantage of women working with them. The most frequent cause of divorce is adultery, which is made easy by the free mixing of the sexes. The reason that children as young as 15 are getting pregnant is because the schools, which were once segregated, have become "co-educational", and are now dens of iniquity where peer pressure reigns supreme and promiscuity is the order of the day.

The abortion rate simply reflects the low esteem in which human life is held. n the Western world, equality for women has meant looking the same as men, doing the same jobs as them, and exhibiting the same behaviour and characteristics as men. Western societies have paid the price for this unnatural approach, by suffering huge losses of morality and human values. Equality of the sexes does not mean that both men and women should look the same. In a society where money, beauty and masculinity are what counts, a woman has to work, dress and behave like a man and at the same time stay pretty like a model in order to stand on equal terms with men. This is to the detriment of her moral values and feminine nature, whereas Islam has set out the unique and complementary roles of both men and women.

First, the misinformation campaign directed at most Westerners which conveys to them that Islam preaches inhuman practices and the Oppression of women need to be emphasised. Opponents of Islam usually maliciously manipulate the fact that Muslim women are required to dress modestly, and are prohibited from mixing freely with the opposite sex. A further whip is drawn to bash Islam with by distorting the facts regarding polygny. They misconstrue these Islamic teachings as evidence and portray Islam as preaching suppression of women. The West has been so successful in propagating these distorted views that even some Muslims have fallen victim to it. This should hardly come as a surprise when it is known that Muslims tend to be more familiar with Western literature than their own Islamic heritage. In Britain alone, between 1960 and 1978 over 22,000 books and 43,000 journals published material slandering the teachings of Islam. When every form of media and education such as, television, schools, teachers, friends, colleagues, books, newspapers and magazines are all conveying this distorted message that Islam oppresses women; it is no wonder that those who are poorly educated, in the facts of the matter, are so easily distracted away from the right path. To counter this tide of misinformation, a general need to educate society at large about the true Islamic teachings regarding women needs to be urgently undertaken. The Qur'an and ahadith are explicit on this matter.