Women’s Rights

In islam women and men are viewed as equals, and will only be judged in accordance to their hard work and good deeds.

The Quran states, “I shall not lose sight of the efforts of any of you who work in My way, be it man or woman; each of you is from the other”(3:195).

Women in early Islamic society were encouraged to be involved in public life. The Prophet’s wife Aisha and his daughters were considered great scholars of Islam. The Prophet’s first wife Khadija was a successful businesswoman who in fact proposed marriage to him.

1400 years ago Islam brought with it many rights for women. At a time when much of the world treated women as second class citizens, Islam elevated their status, treating them as equal to men. They were able to own their own property, encouraged to gain education, earn their own money and given the right vote – a right that was only given to women in the UK about 90 years ago!

Sadly, this ethos of equality is not always a reality in the way Muslims live today and much needs to be done to realise it

In Islam both men and women are required to dress modestly. Many Muslims believe that this means women should wear loose modest clothing and cover their heads when in public. Some even believe that they should cover their face (although most Muslims would say this is a cultural practice and not encouraged by the religion itself). Others believe that provided their clothing is modest and not provocative, the covering of the hair is not obligatory.

Islam is a strong advocate of marriage. The relationship should embrace love and affection, intimacy and closeness, mercy and compassion, peace and tranquillity. The Quran says:

“And among His signs is this: That He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest, peace of mind in them, and He ordained between you love and mercy.”

Muslims believe God also says about husband and wife:

“they are your garments and you are their garments” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:187).

Describing both husband and wife as protection for one another, that keep each other warm and cover up each others faults.

However Islam also recognises that sometimes people change, they may not get on as well as they used to, so rather than live in a loveless relationship, where there may be continuous arguing or upset, islam reluctantly allows the right for both parties to divorce if necessary (and remarry elsewhere if they choose to).

Forced marriages are forbidden in Islam. It is wrong to force someone – boy or girl – to marry someone they do not want to get married to.

There was an incident at the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), when a woman came to him and said “My father has made me marry someone without my permission”. Muhammad (pbuh) replied; “well if you do not agree to it, then the marriage is null and void (ie not valid)”. The woman replied that she was actually happy with the marriage, but she just wanted to know about her rights.