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Gender Equality In Islam.

According to the Qur'an, men and women have the same spiritual human nature: O mankind: Reverence your Guardian Lord Who created you from a single person created of like nature his mate and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; reverence Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights) and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you): for Allah ever watches over you. (Qur'an 4:1)

It is He who created you from a single person and made his mate of like nature in order that he might dwell with her (in love). When they are united she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed). When she grows heavy they both pray to Allah their Lord (saying): 'If You give us a goodly child we vow we shall (ever) be grateful.' (Qur'an 7:189)

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him and He is the One that hears and sees (all things.) (Qur'an 42:11)

Both genders are recipients of the 'divine breath' since they are created with the same human and spiritual nature (nafsin-waahidah): But He fashioned him in due proportion and breathed into him something of His spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do you give. (Qur'an 15:29)

Both genders are dignified and are trustees of Allah on earth. We have honored the children of Adam, provided them with transport on land and sea; given them for sustenance things good and pure; and conferred on them special favors above a great part of Our Creation. (Qur'an 17:70)

Behold your Lord said to the angels: 'I will create a vicegerent on earth.' They said 'Will you place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood? Whilst we do celebrate Your praises and glorify Your holy (name)?' He said: 'I know what you do not.' (Qur'an 2:30)

According to the Qur'an, woman is not blamed for the 'fall of man.' Pregnancy and childbirth are not seen as punishments for 'eating from the forbidden tree.' On the contrary, the Qur'an considers them to be grounds for love and respect due to mothers. In narrating the story of Adam and Eve, the Qur'an frequently refers to both of them, never singling out Eve for the blame:

Men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. They both face the consequences of their deeds: And their Lord has accepted of them and answered them: 'Never will I suffer to be los the work of any of you be it male or female: you are members of one another ...' (Qur'an 3:195). If any do deeds of righteousness be they male or female and have faith they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them. (Qur'an 4:124). For Muslim men and women and for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (Qur'an 33:35). One Day shall you see the believing men and the believing women how their Light runs forward before them and by their right hands: (their greeting will be): 'Good news for you this Day! Gardens beneath which flow rivers! To dwell therein forever! This is indeed the highest Achievement!' (Qur'an 57:12)

Nowhere does the Qur'an state that one gender is superior to the other. Some mistakenly translate 'qiwamah' or responsibility for the family as superiority. The Qur'an makes it clear that the sole basis for superiority of any person over another is piety and righteousness, not gender, color, or nationality: O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of Allah is (one who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Qur'an 49:13)

The absence of women as prophets or 'Messengers of Allah' in prophetic history is due to the demands and physical suffering associated with the role of messengers and prophets and not because of any spiritual inferiority.

The economic aspect

The Islamic Shariiah recognises the full property rights of women before and after marriage. A married woman may keep her maiden name.

Greater financial security is assured for women. They are entitled to receive marital gifts, to keep present and future properties and income for their own security. No married woman is required to spend a penny from her property and income on the household. She is entitled to full financial support during marriage and during the waiting period ('iddah) in case of divorce. She is also entitled to child support. Generally, a Muslim woman is guaranteed support in all stages of her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister. These additional advantages of women over men are somewhat balanced by the provisions of the inheritance which allow the male, in most cases, to inherit twice as much as the female. This means that the male inherits more but is responsible financially for other females: daughters, wives, mother, and sister, while the female (i.e., a wife) inherits less but can keep it all for investment and financial security without any legal obligation so spend any part of it even for her own sustenance (food, clothing, housing, medication, etc.).

The social aspect (as a daughter)

The Qur'an effectively ended the cruel pre-Islamic practice of female infanticide (wa'd): When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned for what crime she was killed. The Qur'an went further to rebuke the unwelcoming attitudes among some parents upon hearing the news of the birth of a baby girl, instead of a baby boy: 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 (sufferance and) contempt or bury her in the dust? Ah! what an evil (choice) they decide on! (Qur'an 16:58 59)

Parents are duty bound to support and show kindness and justice to their daughters. Prophet Muhammad said: 'Whosoever has a daughter and he does not bury her alive, does not insult her, and does not favour his son over her, Allah will enter him into Paradise.' [Ahmad]. 'Whosoever supports two daughters till they mature, he and I will come on the Day of Judgment as this (and he pointed with his two fingers held together).' [Ahmad]

Education is not only a right but also a responsibility of all males and females. Prophet Muhammad said: 'Seeking knowledge is mandatory for every Muslim ('Muslim' is used here in the generic meaning which includes both males and females).

As a wife

Marriage in Islam is based on mutual peace, love, and compassion, not just the satisfaction of man's needs: And among His Signs is that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may well in tranquility with them and He has put live and mercy between your (hearts); verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (Qur'an 30:21)

(He is) the Creator of the heavens and the earth: He has made for you pairs from among yourselves and pairs among cattle: by this means does He multiply you: there is nothing whatever like unto Him and He is the One that hears and sees (all things). (Qur'an 42:11)

The female has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. Her consent is prerequisite to the validity of the marital contract, according to the Prophet's teaching. It follows that if by 'arranged marriage' is meant marrying the girl without her consent, then such a marriage is nullifiable if she so wished. 'Ibn Abbas reported that a girl came to the Messenger of God, Muhammad, and she reported that her father had forced her to marry without her consent. The Messenger of God gave her the choice... (between accepting the marriage or invalidating it).' (Ahmad, Hadeeth no. 2469). In another version, the girl said: 'Actually I accept this marriage but I wanted to let women know that parents have no right to force a husband on them.' [Ibn Majah]

The husband is responsible for the maintenance, protection, and overall headship of the family (qiwamah) within the framework of consultation and kindness. The mutual dependency and complementarity of the roles of males and females does not mean 'subservience' by either party to the other. Prophet Muhammad helped in household chores in spite of his busy schedule.
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Publication:Nigerian Tribune (Oyo State, Nigeria)
Date:Jun 21, 2019
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