By Nadia Cassim
Men and Women are Equal, and in Marriage Equitable
Islam is a fair and just religion. Contrary to Western belief, it affords men and women equal rights. As stated in the Holy Quran:
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.” [3:195]
In marriage however, whilst men and women should afford one another the same courtesies, they are not viewed as equal. Rather, men and women are seen as equitable partners. As the Holy Quran stipulates:
“Live with them (your wives) on a footing of kindness and equity” (4:19)
As defined by the Farlex online Dictionary, equity is the state, quality, or ideal of being just, impartial, and fair ¹. Thus, in marriage, men and women should live with one another in a fair and just manner, and more importantly, in kindness and respect. Furthermore, men have a greater responsibility over women (Quran, 4:34) and are not, as often misinterpreted, better than or superior to them².
The teachings of our beloved Nabi Muhammed (SAW) reiterates the abovementioned point:” A true Muslim believer is the shepherd of his household and should be gentle and patient with his wife’s needs and grievances” ³.One can naturally assume, given the nature of men and women, that should a husband treat his wife with kindness and equity, she would surely respect him and vice versa.
Mutual respect is reiterated in the Holy Quran by the following verse:
And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves mates that you may find tranquility in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy. Indeed in that are signs for a people who give thought (30:21)
Mercy is therefore a sign from Allah and Islam supports harmonious living between a husband and wife.
A Good Woman in Islam Is Not Necessarily a Perfect Woman
The role of a good Muslim wife is often described as a woman who is able to meet all her obligations towards her husband and family, a righteous woman who can uplift her husband’s faith and bring him closer to Allah².The Quran also acknowledges that women are mere human beings and thus in no way perfect in meeting these obligations. Allah encourages men to show mercy towards their wives and to look towards their good qualities rather than their flaws. The Quran states:
And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good (4:19)
Women Held in the HIGHEST Esteem
Women are surely like diamonds. The Holy Quran dedicates an entire chapter to the rights of Muslim women (Surah An-Nisa), in marriage and divorce. A woman is protected both socially and financially. Below are just some noteworthy points to bear in mind:
- Women have the right to choose their own husband.
As stated in the Holy Quran:
“O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will (4:19).
- Women have the right to Mahr, and furthermore, this should be given with a good heart to her by her husband (The Holy Quran 4:4).
- Women have the right to be financially independent from their husbands, have the right to own property and enter into legal contacts –
And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing (Quran 4:32).
Despite this however, men are still financially responsible for women.
- Women have the right to be treated with kindness and respect (Quran 4:19)
- Women have the right to divorce (Kholaa) on certain grounds. As stated in the Holy Quran:
“And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your wives) any of your Mahr (bridal-money given by the husband to his wife at the time of marriage) which you have given them, except when both parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by Allah (e.g. to deal with each other on a fair basis). Then if you fear that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allaah, then there is no sin on either of them if she gives back (the Mahr or a part of it) for her Al-Khul‘ (divorce)” [al-Baqarah 2:229)
(Read more on this point by accessing http://www.quransunnah.com/modules.php?name=QNA&l_op=viewfatwa&lid=113 )
- In the event of divorce, the right to maintenance and custody of the children. Furthermore she has the right to keep her dowry and have access to healthcare and maintenance should she be carrying a child, until the divorce is finalised (Human Rights in Islam by Dr Ali Alwahid Wafi)
- (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/equity, accessed 31 March 2013)
- (http://www.alsiraj.net/english/misc/women/html/page14.html , accessed 12 February 2013)
- (http://whyquran.com , Divorce in Islam, accessed 12 February 2013).