Woman in Islam
He found there a whole tribe of men watering. And he found apart from them two women restraining their flock. He said, “What ails you?” The two said, “We cannot give our flock to drink unless the shepherds return from the water, and our father is a very old man.” So he watered their flock for them. Then he returned aside into the shade and said, “My Lord! I am needy of whatever good Thou send down for me.” (Surah 28: Verse 22-24)
The Holy Quran narrates numerous events including stories of the nations of past. It gives the accounts of Allah's Prophets and Messengers and also mentions both groups of men, those who disbelieved and denied the Prophets and those who believed and obeyed Allah's Message. The Quran relates all these events in context to the purpose of its revelation, that is, to invite mankind towards Allah, to define the path of worship and obedience, and to warn about the way leading to Divine Wrath.
Historic events are mentioned only as examples for mankind to draw conclusions and to learn desired lessons. For that reason, it narrates the conditions of various nations at the time when Prophets were sent to them. It recounts the hardships endured by Prophets during their efforts to steer their nations from darkness to the Light, and also highlights the difference between the fate of the rejecters of Faith and of the believers. The Quran recounts all this to enable the reader to reflect and decide the best course for himself. Although the Quranic narration of history is the most perfect and the absolute truth, yet the mere narration of history has never been the subject of Quran. Thus it does not tell the whole story at one place, but refers to its different events at appropriate places, so as to highlight the desired lessons.
The holy verses mention the tyranny of Pharaoh, the events of Prophet Musa’s flight to Madyan and his meeting with Prophet Shoaib. In addition to the grand sacrifices and steadfastness of Prophet Musa and the piety and greatness of Prophet Sho’aib-as, these verses mention an extraordinary event which is full of tremendous wisdom and lessons for human civilisation. As Prophet Musa-as approached Madyan, he came upon a well on the outskirts of the city where people brought their cattle to drink. A large crowd of herdsmen with their cattle had gathered at the well. Amongst these herdsmen, he found two young girls holding their flock to one side. He was genuinely surprised to find these young girls there and inquired about their odd presence in an all-male business.
conditions and norms
They replied that they had also brought their flock for water and were waiting for the others to leave the site before they could take their turn. They added that their father was old and could not do this job himself. In this small sentence, Allah has laid down the conditions and norms for women to participate in various spheres of human activity outside the four walls of their homes.
A woman is permitted to step out of her house if there is none else to work outside. Those women who have a man such as father, brother, husband or son to work for them, are not required to go out of their homes. But, if the male member(s) of the family are sick or old or can't work for some reason, then women are permitted to go out and work - under compulsion.
They must not starve to death within their homes, nor should they beg or steal, but should adopt a respectable means to earn their living. However, such women should not mix freely with the working men and must always keep their proper distance. This point has been highlighted in the referred verses. The two young girls had come out of their home under compulsion, but they waited aside for the male shepherds to leave the site before they took their turn.
Here, two conditions have been laid down when women may come out of their homes to work;
- first, when there is no male member of the family to undertake this obligation,
- second, when they don't have any source of livelihood, and are required to earn their bread by themselves.
Our society is infested with strange customs which have actually been borrowed from the Hindus and injected into this Muslim culture. The notion that women are inferior or worthless is a myth of Hindu cult, which assigns no significance to them - whatsoever. When the husband dies, the wife must be cremated with him; otherwise, she would have to spend her remaining life as an untouchable and detested creature. Even her near ones won't speak to her and she would be sentenced to solitary confinement, living a dog's life, performing menial jobs.
We have imported this concept from Hinduism. We too, highlight her weaknesses emphatically and present her as a worthless and loathsome member of the human race - this attitude is certainly wrong.
Message of Islam
Islam is the message of love for all of humanity; a woman is as good a member of the human family as is a man. Islam has assigned different responsibilities and duties to both, keeping in view their physical, mental and psychological potentials and capacities. Both shall appear before the same Lord, at the same place and account for their deeds. A disbelieving man shall be sentenced to the same hell as a disbelieving woman, and a blessed woman would undoubtedly enjoy the same Divine Bliss in Paradise as a man would.
As human beings, both follow the same pattern in life. They are born alike, exist alike, taste the same death, would be raised in the same manner and would likewise face the consequences of their deeds. They have been created with different physical, mental and psychological capabilities. Their requirements and responsibilities, therefore, are also different. However, both of them are of equal importance as members of the human race.
On the plea that there has not been a female Prophet, some consider women as inferior. However, the advocates of this argument tend to forget that, although Allah created a Prophet without father, there is no evidence of a motherless Prophet in the entire human race. Except for the first human being and a Prophet, whom Allah created without a father or a mother, there is no other instance of a Prophet being born without a mother.
Without exception, every Prophet was born and brought up in the warm, loving lap of his mother. If she was such a detestable creature, then why was every Prophet and Messenger born and brought up in her lap? Yes, she is not a Prophet but isn't she the mother of a Prophet? Isn't she his loving daughter? Doesn't she share his life as his wife?
In Paradise, the residence of the holy Prophet will be located at the most blessed and sublime station. There would be no other house or person in the vicinity, except his holy wives who will also be living with him in his house. So how is a woman bad or inferior? In fact, we have borrowed this false notion from the Hindus of the Indian subcontinent.
Duties and Responsibilites
The natural division of duties and responsibilities of men and women can be illustrated by the following example.
Suppose a person wants to grow a beautiful orchard, for which he requires two workers. The first should be physically strong to undertake hard work such as tilling the earth, planting trees, digging water channels, etc. He should be strong enough to protect the garden and work outside at his own.
The second worker, required to look after the plants, may not be as strong, but should be more caring and loving than the first one. This worker, by natural instinct, must understand and care for the requirements and needs of each budding plant and blossoming flower. This worker's love should so distribute the food and nourishment that plants should neither die of shortage nor of excess.
The relatively frail body of the second worker must possess a strong but sensitive and tender heart, because the job is not to protect the garden but nurture the plants fondly and tenderly.
In my opinion, this task is more delicate and subtle. Allah has entrusted this delicate and sensitive responsibility of raising and educating the human race to a woman, whilst the job of a man is to earn and protect it; this is the natural division of their responsibilities. Both are equally responsible, and I think the job of a woman is more important.
Continued to Part 2...
Article Contributed by: itsIslam Staff