Status Given to Women in the Qur’ȃn

Status of women in Islam is among the subjects presented with least objectivity to Western reader. The teachings of Islam on this subject are to be based essentially on Qur’ȃn and not on traditions. When Qur’ȃn is unbiasedly read and understood, it provides the authentic source of information on this subject. What changes Qur’ȃn brought regarding the status of women are better understood when we survey status of women in pre-Islamic religions to find out how different the Qur’ȃnic position is from Hindu Manus (the sacred law code of Hinduism) and the Holy Bible.

Woman in Hindu Scriptures: One reads in Encyclopedia Britannica (28:782 11th.edition): ”In India, subjection was a cardinal principle. Day and night must women be held by their protectors in a state of dependence says Manu. The rule of inheritance was agnetic; that is descent traced through males to them exclusion of females…. She was as impure as false-hood. If she touches a hollowed image, its god-ship is destroyed”. In Hindu scriptures, the description of a good wife is as follows: ‘a woman whose mind, speech and body is kept in subjugation; acquires high renown in this world and the next, the same abode with her husband”. Husbands service (“Pativartaya”) was over ages the dominant ideology. Pativartaya included among others that she has to eat whatever the husband left behind. Husband had the right to kill her if he felt she is not at his service and she has to burn herself in the funeral pyre of her husband when he died before her (satti of the wife). She has to believe that her husband is the living god and this is not all what is in Manu’s code of Hindu spiritual laws is to be read about women and their duties.

Women in Greek and Roman Civilization: In Encyclopedia Britannica we can read a summary of the legal status the women enjoyed in Greek and Roman civilzation. On marriage she and her property becomes the property of her husband. She has the role of a slave acquired for the benefit of her husband. She cannot exercise any civil or public office. She cannot make will. According to the older English Common Law, “…all property which a wife held at the time of marriage became a possession of her husband”.

Biblical Decrees on Women: A few biblical decrees are to be mentioned before moving to Qur’ȃnic decrees. In Mosaic Law the wife was betrothed – that is the husband acquired possession of her by payment of purchase money. Consent of the woman was not required. Only the husband has the right to divorce. Some dark sides of Bible are summarized below:

A priest’s daughter, if found to have lost her virginity without marriage, can receive the death penalty, but in the form of incineration ( Leviticus 21:9)

“For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” (I Corinthians 11:8-9). Followers of Bible should realize that such phrases ( I Cor. 14:34-36, I Timothy 2:8-15, I Peter 3:1-7, Ephesians 5:22-24, Col. 3:18-19) in the Bible has justified for many Christian men, not only their supremacy but a reason to sexually abuse women.

Verses of Exodus 22:18-20 attested and authorized the slaughter of thousands of defenseless women (“witches”) throughout Europe and most of the Christian world. Christians used verse 20 of Exodus to justify religious wars, Crusades and the slaughter of unbelievers. These verses not only authorize the executions but they explicitly command them.

Bible on Sexual Morality: The belief some get about the Biblical law leads them to think that it represented a great advancement in morality then read what the Holy Book says:

“Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you: but unto this man do not so vile a thing. But the men would not hearken to him: so the man took his concubine, and brought her forth unto them; and they knew her, and abused her all the night until the morning: and when the day began to spring, they let her go.” (Judges 19:24-25). Judges 19 describe a father who offers his virgin daughter to a drunken mob. Verse 25 describes the hours long gang rape of the poor concubine. The Bible gives not one hint of compassion or concern for the raped girl.

Harsh and Degrading Words for Women in Bible:

“Give me any plague, but the plague of the heart: and any wickedness, but the wickedness of a woman.” (Eccles. 25:13)

“Of the woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die.” (Eccles. 25:22)

“If she go not as thou wouldest have her, cut her off from thy flesh, and give her a bill of divorce, and let her go.” (Eccles. 25: 26)

“The whoredom of a woman may be known in her haughty looks and eyelids. If thy daughter be shameless, keep her in straitly, lest she abuse herself through overmuch liberty.” (Eccles. 26:9-10)

“A silent and loving woman is a gift of the Lord: and there is nothing so much worth as a mind well instructed. A shamefaced and faithful woman is a double grace, and her continent mind cannot be valued.” (Eccles. 26:14-15)

“A shameless woman shall be counted as a dog; but she that is shamefaced will fear the Lord.” (Eccles.26:25)

“For from garments cometh a moth, and from women wickedness. Better is the churlishness of a man than a courteous woman, a woman, I say, which bringeth shame and reproach.”(Eccles. 42:13-14)

You will hardly find anywhere else in a Divine Book a collection of more degrading references to the female sex than the early Christian Fathers provided. “The Christian Fathers represented as the door to Hell, mother of all human ills, She should be ashamed at every thought that she was a woman. She should live in continued penance on account of the curses she brought upon the world. She should be ashamed of her dress, as this is the memorial of her fall. She should be ashamed of her beauty as this is the most potent instrument of the devil” (Historian Lecky).

These scriptures are the heart and soul of decreeing the Word of God. These words are so often spoken without any realization of their power and the consequences born of said power. All this is part of faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.” ( Hebrew 11.6)

Christian Heritage: Let no one suppose that Christian heritage was free from such slighting judgements. Not only did the church affirm women’s inferior status, it deprived her of the legal rights. Modern western woman had to fight back her lost rights over centuries against the laws of the church.

If anyone thinks Jesus represents only a peaceful loving soul, then think again. For an act of adultery, Jesus would kill innocent children for the adultery of others; hardly fair justice, love, or the concern for human beings. Read what Jesus says: “Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he, which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” (Revelation 2:22-23)

Paul said, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5.22-24). All inclusive “everything” could allow husbands to submit their wives to anything, including rape, beatings, slavery, etc.

 

Woman in the Qur’ȃn

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا

“O you people! Take as a shield your Lord Who created you from a single being. The same stock from which He created the man He created his spouse, and through them both He caused to spread a large number of men and women. O people! regard Allâh with reverence in Whose name you appeal to one another, and (be regardful to) the ties of relationship (particularly from the female side). Verily, Allâh ever keeps watch over you.” (4:1)

Here the entire mankind is being addressed. Men and women proceed from the same origin, similar in nature and of the same stock (4:1). This announcement is repeated in the verse 16:72:

وَاللَّهُ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَجَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَزْوَاجِكُم بَنِينَ وَحَفَدَةً وَرَزَقَكُم مِّنَ الطَّيِّبَاتِ ۚ أَفَبِالْبَاطِلِ يُؤْمِنُونَ وَبِنِعْمَتِ اللَّهِ هُمْ يَكْفُرُونَ

“And Allâh has made for you mates from your own species and has given you sons, (daughters) and grand children from your mates and has provided you with good and pure things. Will the people still believe in vain and false things and deny the blessing of Allâh?” (16:72)

The creation of mates for human beings is called “blessing” in this verse that cannot be denied. The account we read in the Holy Bible is very different: “God created man in His image (Gen, 1.26-27) and the woman out of the ribs of man” (Gen. 2:21). Qur’ȃn says:

فَاطِرُ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ ۚ جَعَلَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا وَمِنَ الْأَنْعَامِ أَزْوَاجًا ۖ يَذْرَؤُكُمْ فِيهِ ۚ لَيْسَ كَمِثْلِهِ شَيْءٌ

“He is the Originator of the heavens and the earth. He has made your mates from your own species and has made mates of the cattle (also from their own species). That is the way whereby He multiplies you. Naught is as His exegesis.” (42:11).

Then we read:

وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْأَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّ فِي ذَ‌ٰلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And (it is one) of His signs that He has created spouses for you from your own species that you may find comfort in them. And He has induced mutual love and tenderness between you. Behold! There are signs in this for a people who would reflect.” (30:21)

These words tell us that the object of relationship between man and woman is not exclusively perpetuating human life but the emotional well-being, comfort and spiritual harmony. Its base is mutual love and tenderness. The verse thus protects the women from forced marriage and makes them an object of love and tenderness. If marriage is forced, “mutual love and tenderness”, as wished by Allȃh, between the husband and wife cannot develop freely. Therefore, love and kindness should be the rule and not the enforcement of authority by man, nor subservience on the part of the woman. Then, you read in Qur’ȃn:

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ ۗ

They are (a sort of) garment for you and you are (a sort of) garment for them” (2:187).

It is indeed a beautiful, suitable and befitting metaphor used in Qur’ȃn. As garments hide, so do wives and husbands hide each other’s nakedness, their weaknesses, both physical and moral, and also those places that they are ashamed of displaying to others. As clothes give comfort, protection and grace, so do wives and husbands find comfort and grace in each other’s company. This ‘garment’ is the grace, the beauty, the embellishment. This is the ideal of wifehood in Islam, and you will not found elsewhere in any Divine Book this ideal of mutual love, affection and equality.

We read in the beginning pages of the Bible, on which the whole structure of Judaism and Christianity is based, the story of the ‘Fall of man through a woman’. It was the woman, whom Adam later blames (Gen. 3.12). Tortulliar wrote: “Do you know you are each an Eve. You are the devils gateway, you are the unsealer of that forbidden tree. You are the first deserter of Divine Law. You are she who persuades 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.”

The text in the Qur’ân relating to this account reads: “And We said, ‘O Adam! Dwell you and your wife in this garden and eat freely and plentifully from it as you will. But you shall not go near this tree (- tree of discord) lest you should be of the unjust’. After some time the satan caused them both to slip from this (order of not going near evil) and, thus, brought them out of (the happy state) which they were in.” (2:35-36). Here you read that no sole blame falls on the woman, and the ‘Adam’ of the Holy Qur’ân, in order to save himself from the banishment at the expense of his wife does not say, ‘The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I did eat’(Genesis).

The ‘Adam’ in the Holy Qur’ân is penitent, noble and respectful towards his wife. Both of them confess their guilt when they say, “Our Lord! We have done injustice to our soul and if you do not protect us against the consequences of our faults and do not have mercy on us, we shall surely be of the losers” (7:23). What a truism, which we experience in our daily lives. Then you read the verse 3:195, “Their Lord then, accepted their prayer for them (saying), ‘I will not, most certainly suffer the deed of any doer (of good) from among you, whether male or female, to be lost; the one of you being as the other”. Every husband is an ‘Adam’ and every wife an ‘Eve’, living in the garden of their bliss, as long as they live in harmony and concord and shun evil. No sooner do they taste the tree of evil and discord, than it causes their banishment from their happy state. This verse brings a man on the same footing as a woman.

It is not Qur’ân that teaches us that as long as a maiden lives in the house of her father she has to be ruled by one who has the authority on her body. She is not to be bartered, nor to be given away to make up family feuds, nor to bait the enemies and be a ‘snare’. She is not unclean and therefore to be brought out of the city because ‘the places are holy where unto the ark of Lord hath come’. Saints of the mediaeval Church called the woman: ‘The organ of the Devil. The instrument which the Devil used to gain possession of souls. She is the foundation of the arm of Devil. A scorpion that is ever ready to sting, the poison of an asp, the malice of dragon’. No such words about women are found in the Qur’ân or were ever heard from the lips of the Prophet of Islam. Woman is not a source of disgrace, or shame or an object to be ‘buried alive’ – as practiced in the pre-Islamic Arab society. On the contrary, the Holy Qur’ân teaches that women and men are equally indispensable for each other’s happiness.

In order to raise the position of women, which had reached its lowest ebb at the time of revelation, the Holy Qur’ân has laid down several laws pertaining to women. Chapter 4 ‘The Women’ (Al-Nisȃ’) is mostly devoted to this subject. This chapter begins with an injunction, which is very comprehensive but deep in its significance and in its application. Our Sustainer has not preferred men to women, but has created them from the same stock and provided them both with the same capacities and capabilities, so the women are not be stigmatized for intellectual deficiency by nature and want of common sense.

In matters of social status, professions, marriages and inheritance, the Holy Qur’ân gives women rights similar to those of men. (2:228;.4:7; 4:19). No guardian can force any girl into marriage without first obtaining her consent (2:19). She does not lose her identity or name after marriage and has an equal right of divorcing her husband. Accusing women and punishing them for being sexually flagrant requires producing at least four eyewitnesses – a law clearly for the protection of women against false charges and accusations (4:15; 24:4). On her marriage she retains the share of her inheritance from her parents, and after marriage she acquires additional rights in the property of her husband in the form of dowry (4:24). She can enter into any financial contract (without her husband) on her own (4:4). The financial responsibility for the family lies with the husband (2:228). Divorce is allowed, if all conciliatory efforts fail. After the divorce no man is permitted to ask that back what he has given to his wife as dowry or as a gift, nor has he any right on the inherited property of the woman (4:20).

Women are not the property of men: “O you who believe! It is not lawful for you to treat women as inherited property by force, nor should you detain them that you may take away part of that which you have given them, except that they commit flagrant indecency. But consort with them in peace. Then if you have a dislike for them, it may be that you dislike a thing but Allâh has placed a good deal of good in it”.

“And if you desire to take one wife in place of (another) wife and you have given one of them a huge treasure, then take nothing from that which you have given. Would you take it by false accusation and by committing an open sin? And how can you take it when you have already lain with one another and they (- your wives) have bound you down to a firm and solemn covenant (by marriage)?” (4:19-21)

Social Protection of women: Women are subjected to ill-treatment in almost all societies for minor faults, or simply because they were not found pleasing by their husbands. Men mostly pronounce them guilty of immoral conduct. In order to safeguard women from fals e charges, Qur’ȃn has laid down laws for their protection.

وَاللَّاتِي يَأْتِينَ الْفَاحِشَةَ مِن نِّسَائِكُمْ فَاسْتَشْهِدُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ أَرْبَعَةً مِّنكُمْ ۖ

“As to those of your women who commit perversity, call in four of you to witness against them, and if they bear witness then confine them to their houses, until death overtakes them or Allâh makes for them a way out,” (4:15)

وَالَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ ثُمَّ لَمْ يَأْتُوا بِأَرْبَعَةِ شُهَدَاءَ فَاجْلِدُوهُمْ ثَمَانِينَ جَلْدَةً وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

“Strike eighty times on the bodies of those who calumniate chaste women and who do not support (their accusation) with four witnesses, and never accept their testimony (because) it is they who are the disobedient (and break the law)” (24:4)

These verses aim at protecting women’s rights against harsh allegation by men. The use of the word minkum مِّنكُمْ in verse 4:15 signifies that the four eye witnesses are to be among those who are respected in society. The women referred to in this verse are those guilty of al-hishah الْفَاحِشَةَ, which is anything that is grossly immodest, lewd, abominable in word or deed, manifests improper conduct, flagrantly indecent (including but not limited to adultery or fornication), or anything that exceeds the boundaries of decency (Tâj, Lisân, Lane). To maintain peace in society, women found guilty are to be confined to their houses. The purpose of confinement is to protect them from physical excesses by men and to prevent them from mixing with other women. The confinement is until they are married (in case they were unmarried), or until they amend themselves and seek forgiveness from Allâh, as the words “Allâh makes for them a way out” and as the verses which follow (4:16-17) suggest.

 

Objections raised on the status of women in Qur’ȃn

“Men have a place above them [women]” This is the most common objection raised by non-Muslims, and unfortunately, many Muslim think this to be so. The verse being referred reads as follows:

أَرْحَامِهِنَّ إِن كُنَّ يُؤْمِنَّ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ وَبُعُولَتُهُنَّ أَحَقُّ بِرَدِّهِنَّ فِي ذَ‌ٰلِكَ إِنْ أَرَادُوا إِصْلَاحًا ۚ وَلَهُنَّ مِثْلُ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۚ وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ

“And the divorced women must keep themselves waiting for three (monthly) courses (as `Iddat), and it is not lawful for them to conceal what Allâh has created in their wombs, if indeed they believe in Allâh and the Last Day. And their husbands have a better right to take them back in the meanwhile, provided they desire and mean reconciliation. And women have their rights similar to their obligations in an equitable and just manner; yet men have a place above them. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (2:228)

From the above verse the wording وَلِلرِّجَالِ عَلَيْهِنَّ دَرَجَةٌ “men have a place above them [women]” are taken out of context to prove that Qur’ȃn degrades the status of women to a lower level. The “the place above them” is in connection to the situation of divorce. The verse tells us that woman has to wait at least three months to exclude any pregnancy if she wants to remarry. This waiting limit is not applicable to men. This is the place men have as an advantage over women. Otherwise, “women have their rights similar to their obligations in an equitable and just manner” as the verse continues. Qur’ȃn tells us:

هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَّكُمْ وَأَنتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَّهُنَّ

“They are (a sort of) garment for you and you are (a sort of) garment for them” (2:187).

Polygamy in Islam: Polygamy was practiced in many older societies. Biblical Prophets were no exceptions to it. It is still common in some Arab countries. Societies where polygamy is legally prohibited, it is practiced behind the scene. Qur’ȃn allows more than one wife under some strict conditions.

وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تُقْسِطُوا فِي الْيَتَامَىٰ فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ ۖ فَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَلَّا تَعْدِلُوا فَوَاحِدَةً أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَعُولُوا

“And if (you wish to marry them and) you fear that you will not be able to do justice to the orphan girls then (marry them not, rather) marry of women (other than these) as may be agreeable to you, (you may marry) two or three or four (provided you do justice to them), but if you fear that you will not be able to deal (with all of them) equitably then (confine yourselves only to) one, or (you may marry) that whom your right hands possess (- your female captives of war). That is the best way to avoid doing injustice.” (4:3)

The intent of this verse is to restrict permission to Muslims to marry more than one wife wives. Its basic purpose is to discourage the practice of polygamy and protect the rights of women by avoiding situations in which a woman may suffer economically and socially as the result of a divorce.

The Holy Qur’ân first limits the number of wives to a maximum of four, before imposing a strict condition of equality: “If you fear that you will not be able to deal equitably then (marry only) one.” Later in verse 129 we are told, وَلَن تَسْتَطِيعُوا أَن تَعْدِلُوا بَيْنَ النِّسَاءِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتُمْ, “It is not within your power to maintain perfect balance between wives, even though you are so eager.” To deal equitably is an injunction; any violation of this is a significant sin and against Qur’ânic law. Thus, this permission of a maximum of four wives nonetheless imposes considerable restriction and severe conditions on males that makes taking another wife almost impossible.

Permission to have more than one wife is not a substantive law in the Holy Qur’ân, but a remedial or emergency law. It should not be brought into operation unless circumstances justify it, such as times of war when many men lose their lives, women are widowed and children are orphaned. The objects of marriage are four-fold::1) protection against social, moral, and spiritual maladies (2:187; 4:24); 2) a source of progeny (4:1); 3) a source of a loving companion providing peace of mind and comfort (30:21); and 4) the social and economic protection of orphans and widows of war (4:127).

Moral, physical and social problems have arisen in societies with very strict monogamy laws. Strict monogamy is often associated with high divorce rates and extramarital affairs, which can lead to considerable societal, psychological, and financial hardship. Limited polygamy allows for widows and divorced women to enter into a stable marital relationship in times of war, when the male population has been severely decimated. It is to meet such exigencies that the Qur’ân allows the contraction of multiple matrimonial relationships by the man.

Marriage in Islam is also a civil contract. Both the parties enter into it under certain conditions. Thus, a woman is at liberty to set a condition on the marriage that the men not take another wife. The violation of that condition will be sufficient to entitle her to divorce her husband and, if so provided in the contract, claim reasonable damages. She is at liberty to separate herself from her husband if he does not abide by the conditions that were agreed on. On the other hand, the example of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) is one of nobility and charity. While still youthful and full of vigor, at the age of twenty-five he married a forty-year-old widow, Khadîjah, and led an exemplary monogamous life with her for another twenty-five years, even though society at the time would have allowed him to take another wife. After the death of his first wife, he took in marriage older widows and divorced women with the sole intention of giving them social and economic protection. Only one of his wives, ‘Âishâ, was a young unmarried woman.

The monogamy that now is predominant in the West should not be considered as a Christian accomplishment. Until recent times, polygamy was practiced by Christians and was allowed in Judaism, Hinduism, and many other religions. Abraham, David, Solomon, and many other Prophets and patriarchs of the Israelites, as well as Krishna and Zoroaster and others esteemed for their sanctity, had more than one wife.

The phrase مَثْنَىٰ وَثُلَاثَ وَرُبَاعَ  “Two or three or four” is a parenthetic clause relating to both the free woman mentioned in the first part of the sentence and to females “whom your right hands possess” from among prisoners of war. Both these nouns are governed by the imperative of the verb “marry.” Thus, the meaning of the passage is to marry from among free woman or captives. The obscene interpretation that female prisoners of war can be held as concubines is incorrect and runs counter to the moral teachings of Islam.

There is yet another aspect given in this verse concerning this permission. We read فَانكِحُوا مَا طَابَ لَكُم مِّنَ النِّسَاءِ “Marry of women as may be agreeable to you.” Agreement should be from both sides. The term “marriage” in Islam always means a mutually-agreed-upon civil contract between husband and wife, and forced “marriages” are not permitted. Unfortunately, this is still a practice in many societies.

To have more than one wife at a time is permitted under hard conditions and is not an injunction. The verse containing this permission (4:3) begins and ends with a capital ‘if’ (4:3). The permission given here is to take a second or a third or fourth wife under certain circumstances, such as wars and the consequent decimation of the male population. This permission is, thus, to provide helpless women with legal and economic protection and to save a society from adultery, street-girls, war-babies and mistresses and to provide their children legal and social protection. The permission of the first wife is absolutely necessary with whom the second wife is going to share the finances of the husband. Not only this, the husband is required to do full justice, based on equality in all matters, and if he fears he cannot do this justice, this permission to marry is no more valid. Contrary to the Jewish and the Christian laws, Qur’ân clearly allows marriages with non-Muslim women. This, too, is for the protection of women, who are given equal rights irrespective of their religion (5:5).

Decency and modesty: Decency and modesty is enjoined by Qur’ân for men as well as for women, as the following verse says:

قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَغُضُّوا مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوا فُرُوجَهُمْ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ أَزْكَىٰ لَهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ خَبِيرٌ بِمَا يَصْنَعُونَ

‘Tell the believing [men] to restrain their looks (in the presence of women not closely related to them and so lawful for marriage) and guard their chastity. That is purer and best for them. Surely, Allâh is Well-Aware of what they do” (24:30)

وَقُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا ۖ وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ

“And tell the believing women to restrain their looks (also in the presence of men who are not near of kin and so lawful for marriage) and guard their chastity and not to disclose their (natural and makeup) beauty except such as cannot be helped (and is apparent) and draw their head coverings over their bosoms’ (24:30-31).

Head Covering: The laws on veiling in Islam have been misunderstood by the Muslims. Under the pressure of cultural identity and traditions there is a high activity of veiling currently within the Islamic states. Veiling and head scarf have become a symbol of Islamic women. There are only two short verses in 6000 Qur’anic verses that refer to covering a certain part of the body. Verse 33:59 tells that woman should wear Jalȃbib جَلَابِيبِ – an outer loose traditional garment over their bodies when leaving their house. This will protect them from being molested.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ قُل لِّأَزْوَاجِكَ وَبَنَاتِكَ وَنِسَاءِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ يُدْنِينَ عَلَيْهِنَّ مِن جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكَ أَدْنَىٰ أَن يُعْرَفْنَ فَلَا يُؤْذَيْنَ

“O Prophet! Tell thy wives and daughters, and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments [جَلَابِيبِهِنَّ] over their persons (when abroad): that is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested.” (33:59)

The second verse says that the women should cover their bosoms:

 وَلْيَضْرِبْنَ بِخُمُرِهِنَّ عَلَىٰ جُيُوبِهِنَّ

“They should draw their head-covers over their bosoms.” (24:31)

The head covering is universally found in almost all nations of the world. It was common in Arabia because of high temperatures. Both men and women used to cover their heads to protect from heat. Even today it is common that desert Arabs cover their head and even face The Qur’ȃnic injunction is only to cover the bosom with a covering, and to wear loose traditional dress when leaving the house. There is no “Islamic dress”, neither for men nor for women, and there is no verse that orders face-veil in Qur’an.

There is no such evidence that women at the time of the Prophet of Islam practiced Burqua (face-veil with complete coverage of the body with the exception of the eyes) as being practiced in some Muslim societies. The Burqua system is neither of Islamic nor of Arabian origin. It is Zoroastrian in origin, later adopted by the Persians and with some modifications by the Byzantines and the Christian nuns. This system was never adopted by great majority of Muslim women. Qur’ân does not enjoin women any face-veil or confinement to the four walls of the house like Christian nuns. We know from the Muslim history that women fought side by side with men, they nursed the sick and cared for the wounded. ‘Â’ishah , the daughter of Abû Bakr and the wife of the Prophet personally conducted a military action in the Battle of Jamal and commanded troops of men. The granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad shielded her nephew in the battle of Karbalâ. All this was not possible with Burqua. The commands in the Sûrah above are for the uplift of morality and ethics of a society and not a tactic to deprive women from the right of development of their personalities in the fields of education, professional lives and family matters. The Qur’ân has laid down no obligation or precept which could render the position of women in any way derogatory, for nowhere in the Holy Qur’ân is there any authority to deprive women from rights which men claim for themselves, and the order to practice decency and modesty is for both, men and women alike. History is full of innumerable instances of high cultural refinement, which Muslim women attained. They have left behind noble records of righteousness, bravery and knowledge. The pious Râbiah of Basrah, the scholarly Zubaidah, the wife of the caliph Hârûn al-Rashîd, Bûrân, the wife of the caliph Mâmûn, Umm al-Fazl, Mâmûn’s sister and Mâmûn’s daughter Umm al-Habîb are a few names known to every reader of Muslim history. We also know that in the 11th. century A.D. (5th after Hijrah) Fakhr al-Nisâ’ lectured publicly at the Grand Mosque of Bagdad on literature, history and poetry. Zât al-Hammâ fought side by side with the bravest of the knights.

Inheritance: Another objection raised is that Qur’ȃn favours men over women in matters of inheritance. Qur’ȃn lays down laws for men and women for inheritance.

It is sometimes appropriate that the male takes a share double that of a female in his own category, because he has been made responsible for the maintenance of the family (h al-Ma‘ânî).

لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ ۚ نَصِيبًا مَّفْرُوضًا

“For men is a share in (the property) that the parents and near relations leave behind and the women shall have a share in (the property) that the parents and the near relations leave behind, whether it (- property) be small or large, a determined share (ordained by Allâh)” (4:7).

This verse forms the basis of the Islamic law of inheritance and lays down the general principle that both men and women inherit. Among the Arabs of the time, women and children had no shares in inheritance. A saying of the time went, “None shall inherit but he who smites with the spear,” limiting inheritance to those who could go to war. The great reform introduced by the teachings of the Holy Qur’ân not only raised the status of women to one of equality with men, but established basic rights for women in all matters of social life.

لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنثَيَيْنِ ۚ فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَاءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ ۖ وَإِن كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ ۚ وَلِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلَدٌ وَوَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلِأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلِأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ آبَاؤُكُمْ وَأَبْنَاؤُكُمْ لَا تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعًا ۚ فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمًا

“Allâh prescribes (the following) law (of inheritance) for your children. For male is the equal of the portion of two females; but if they be all females (two or) more than two, for them is two thirds of what he (- the deceased) has left; and if there be only one, for her is the half and for his parents, for each one of the two is a sixth of what he has left, if he (- the deceased) has a child; but if he has no child and his parents only be his heirs, then for the mother is one third (and the rest two thirds is for the father); but if there be (in addition to his parents) his brothers (and sisters) then there is one sixth for the mother after (the payment of) any bequest he may have bequeathed or (still more important) of any debt (- bequests made by the testator and his debts shall however be satisfied first). Your fathers and your children, you do not know which of them deserve better to benefit from you. (This) fixing (of portions) is from Allâh. Surely, Allâh is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (4:11)

The share of one son has been made equal to that of “two daughters” The apparent inequality can be understood if one looks at the above verse carefully and the people on whom the inheritance is to be divided. The categories of sharers among whom an inheritance is to be divided are twelve in number: four males and eight females. The power of free testamentary disposition extends over only one-third of the property, while the rest is distributed according to the rules discussed.

وَلَكُمْ نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزْوَاجُكُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُنَّ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ فَلَكُمُ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْنَ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِينَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۚوَلَهُنَّ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّكُمْ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَلَهُنَّ الثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُم ۚ مِّن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ

“And for you is half of that which your wives leave behind, if they have no child; but if they have a child, then for you is one fourth of what they leave behind, after (the payment of) any bequest they may have bequeathed or (still more important) of any (of their) debt. And for them (- your wives) is one fourth of what you leave behind if you have no child; but if you leave a child, then, for them is an eighth of what you leave after (the payment of) any bequest you have bequeathed or (still more important) of any debt….” (4:12)

There are two reasons why a female gets half of as compared to a male. It is the Qur’ȃnic injunction that the males have to look after the lively hood of the family in the first place. Secondly, the woman gets a dower from her future husband, and what she brings from her own property is to stay with her, and husband has no right on it.

Testimony of two Women equals one man? The only verse in the entire Qur’an to equate the testimony of two women to that of one man is the verse related debt (2:282). It reads as follows:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا تَدَايَنتُم بِدَيْنٍ إِلَىٰ أَجَلٍ مُّسَمًّى فَاكْتُبُوهُ ۚ وَلْيَكْتُب بَّيْنَكُمْ كَاتِبٌ بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ وَلَا يَأْبَ كَاتِبٌ أَن يَكْتُبَ كَمَا عَلَّمَهُ اللَّهُ ۚ فَلْيَكْتُبْ وَلْيُمْلِلِ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ وَلْيَتَّقِ اللَّهَ رَبَّهُ وَلَا يَبْخَسْ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا ۚ فَإِن كَانَ الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ الْحَقُّ سَفِيهًا أَوْ ضَعِيفًا أَوْ لَا يَسْتَطِيعُ أَن يُمِلَّ هُوَ فَلْيُمْلِلْ وَلِيُّهُ بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ وَاسْتَشْهِدُوا شَهِيدَيْنِ مِن رِّجَالِكُمْ ۖ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُونَا رَجُلَيْنِ فَرَجُلٌ وَامْرَأَتَانِ مِمَّن تَرْضَوْنَ مِنَ الشُّهَدَاءِ أَن تَضِلَّ إِحْدَاهُمَا فَتُذَكِّرَ إِحْدَاهُمَا الْأُخْرَىٰ ۚ وَلَا يَأْبَ الشُّهَدَاءُ إِذَا مَا دُعُوا ۚ وَلَا تَسْأَمُوا أَن تَكْتُبُوهُ صَغِيرًا أَوْ كَبِيرًا إِلَىٰ أَجَلِهِ ۚ ذَ‌ٰلِكُمْ أَقْسَطُ عِندَ اللَّهِ وَأَقْوَمُ لِلشَّهَادَةِ وَأَدْنَىٰ أَلَّا تَرْتَابُوا ۖ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً حَاضِرَةً تُدِيرُونَهَا بَيْنَكُمْ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَلَّا تَكْتُبُوهَا ۗ وَأَشْهِدُوا إِذَا تَبَايَعْتُمْ ۚ وَلَا يُضَارَّ كَاتِبٌ وَلَا شَهِيدٌ ۚ وَإِن تَفْعَلُوا فَإِنَّهُ فُسُوقٌ بِكُمْ ۗ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ وَيُعَلِّمُكُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ وَاللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمٌ

“O you who believe! When you transact a loan for a stipulated term, then write it down. Let a scribe write (it) in your presence in (term of) equity and fairness. The scribe shall not refuse to write down, since it is Allâh Who taught him (to write). Write he must. And let him upon whom be the liability, dictate and let him observe his duty to Allâh, his Lord, nor should he depreciate anything (what is owned) from it. But if the person upon whom the liability is, be of feeble mind or is infirm or he is incapable of dictating himself, then let someone who can watch his interests dictate in (term of) equity and fairness. And call in to witness (the transaction) two male witnesses from amongst your men. But if there be not two males (available) then let there be one male and two females such as you approve as witnesses (to bear witness), so that if either of the two women forgets then one may remind the other. And let the witnesses not refuse (to give evidence) whenever they are summoned. And never feel weary of writing it (- the transaction) down, whether it (- the debt) be small or large, along with the time of its (payment) being due. This (way) is more just in the sight of Allâh, and ensures a more upright evidence and is more likely to prevent your falling into doubts, (so write it down) except you carry ready trade and transfer the merchandise from hand to hand, in that case there shall be no blame on you that you do not write (the transaction). Yet have witnesses when you trade with one another. Let neither the scribe nor the witness be harmed, and if you do (any such thing) then that indeed, is disobedience on your part. Take Allâh as a shield (with the result that) Allâh will grant you knowledge, for Allâh has perfect knowledge of everything.” (2:282)

It will be utterly wrong to draw from above verse general conclusion that testimony of two women equals to that of one man in all social matters.

There are two sentences in the above Sûra that need attention: “The scribe shall not refuse to write down, since it is Allâh Who taught him (to write). Write he must”. Before revelation of Qur’ȃn, people had little or no regard for women and who did not allow their inclusion in matters considered the domain of men. The society’s culture was dominated by two cultures: of pagan Arabia and its female infanticide (16:57-59) and that of the Christian and Jewish inhabitants of Arabian peninsula who considered woman the chief reason for humanity’s fall from Paradise. The Qur’an, in its own subtle manner, places women as fully participating members of society on its agenda – a situation completely new in a man dominated society. It was but natural that scribes tried to refuse to write the contracts of women, they believed to be inferior, and writing for them was below their status. For such situations the Qur’ȃnic injunction was revealed: : “The scribe shall not refuse to write down, since it is Allâh Who taught him (to write). Write he must”.

Let us turn now to a discussion of the meaning of “ann tadzill” (أَن تَضِلَّ) in the verse. According to the Arabic Lexicon the underlying meaning of dzalla ضلٌ is to be absent, to be misled, err, forget, go from the thoughts, wander or deviate from the right path, adjudged to be erring, seduced from the right path. According to Imȃmghib, the word used in the above verse is in the sense of “if she forgets”. The wisdom in the Qur’an’s choice of this word dzalla ضلٌ, rather than the one usually chosen to mean “to forget” (nisyȃnنسيان ) or “to err ” (khata خطاء) is perhaps that the meaning of dzalla is broader and more comprehensive than the other two, as a mistake in testimony may be either intentional or unintentional.

By establishing a role for woman in the witnessing of transactions, even though at the time of revelation they had little to do with such matters, the Qur’an seeks to give concrete form to the idea of woman as participant in all affairs of a society. The objective is to end the traditional perception of women by including them, “among such as are acceptable to you as witnesses.” The women called to witness were stigmatized that they are forgetting and they are mistaken. Moreover, women being physically weak were easy to put under pressure by men by claiming that they are mistaken, or have forgotten some part of the contract. To protect them against such pre-conceived allegations Qur’ȃn gave them a privilege to bring another witness to support their testimony. This was a privilege that was given to women.

It must be admitted that Muslim scholars have neglected the wisdom of their Revelation concerning the equality of the sexes, even though this teaching is mentioned in literally hundreds of Qur’anic verses. Instead of looking at the issues as favour and privilege for women, they considered it as one based on natural incompetence. Taking their cue from Jewish, Christian, and pagan Arab traditions and attitudes, they dwelt on a “woman’s natural tendency to be forgetful and fall into error” and her physical “disabilities.”

Impartiality in Spirituality: In all fields of spirituality All-Mighty God practices the same impartiality (cf. 74:36-56). We read:

مَنْ عَمِلَ سَيِّئَةً فَلَا يُجْزَىٰ إِلَّا مِثْلَهَا ۖ وَمَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ يُرْزَقُونَ فِيهَا بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

“Those who do evil will be recompensed in proportion thereto (- to their evil deeds). But the men and women who believe and (at the same time) do righteous deeds, it is they who will enter Paradise where they will be provided for without measure”. (40:40)

We also read, ‘Whoever acts righteously, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will certainly enable him to lead a pure life and certainly We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their deeds.’ (16:97) In chapter 33 we read:

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

“Verily, Allâh has in store protection (from faults) and a great reward for the men and women who submit themselves (to the will of God), and for the men and women who believe, and for the men and women who are obedient [to Allâh], and for the men and women who are true to Allâh, and for the men and women who are patiently persevering (in their faith and righteousness), and for the men and women who are humble (before God), and for the men and women who give alms, and for the men and women who fast and for the men and women who guard their chastity, and for the men and women who remember and glorify Allâh (with all His praises) again and again.” (33:35)

Revelation not exclusive to men: Revelation, which is God’s greatest gift, is not the exclusive privilege of men and is granted equally to women just as it was granted to Prophets of God and other saints. The Holy Qur’ân cites examples of women recipients of this gift. We read about the mother of Moses in the verse 28:7 ‘And We revealed to the mother of Moses (saying), “Give him (- Moses) suck. But when you have fear about him (- his life) cast him (placing him in a chest) into the river and entertain no fear, nor grief (about his welfare). Verily, We shall restore him to you and shall make him (one) of the Messengers”.’ In the mention of Mary and the wife of Pharaoh we read in verse 66:12-13 how high a woman can rise spiritually. Mary and the wife of Pharaoh are examples for believers to follow: “And Allâh compares those who believe to the wife of Pharaoh. ‘Behold! She said, “My Lord! Make for me an abode in the Garden (of Paradise) close to You and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work and deliver me from the wrongdoing people”.And Allâh (next compares the believers to) Mary, the daughter of Amrân, she who took care to guard her chastity, so we breathed into him (the believer who is exemplified here) Our inspiration while she declared her faith in the revelations of her Lord and His Scriptures and she became of the devoted ones to prayers and obedient to Him”. (66:11-12). After reading such verses we cannot imagine that the spiritual rights of women can go any further.

Men are primarily financially responsible for women: This is because of the biological role and responsibilities of women in family. The following verse provides explanation for this responsibility.

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُوا مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ ۚ

“Men are the full maintainers of women, because Allâh has made one of them excel the other, and because men spend out of their wealth on them.” (4:34)

Responsibilities of women: The above verse continues after referring to the responsibilities of men, with the responsibility of women.

فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَاللَّاتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا

“So virtuous women are those who are obedient (to Allâh) and guard (their own chastity as well as the rights and secrets of their husbands even) in (their) absence, as Allâh has guarded (the women’s rights). As for those women (on whose part) you apprehend disobedience and bad behavior, you may admonish them (first lovingly) and (then) refuse to share their beds with them and (as a last resort) let them go{or punish them symbolically). If they, then, obey you, you shall seek no other way against them. Indeed, Allâh alone is High, (and) Great. (4:34)

Domestic Violence: Inflicting physical punishment on women was sadly common in many societies. Unfortunately, some Muslim men derive the legitimacy of punishing their wives from the word adzribuhunna اضْرِبُوهُنّ in the above verse. This verse with reference to this word is frequently cited by Christian clergy that Qur’ȃn justify domestic violence. The controversy comes from the word adzribuhunna اضْرِبُوهُنَّ translated by many modern English translators as ‘chastise them’. The Arabic word dzaraba has a very broad meaning and has no word-to-word equivalent in any language. All translation of this paragraph are skewed. People endowed with knowledge and insight clearly will not understand that way that the women should be physically abused or chastised. Imȃm Raghib has discussed all those meanings that apply to this word when read in Qur’ȃnic context. Lexica of classical Arabic also provide a long list of its meaning.

Adzribû اضْرِبُو is derived from dzaraba ضرَبَ, a word with a great variety of meanings and interpretations in the Arabic language and in the Holy Qur’ân. Such meanings include: to heal, strike, put forward an example, put forth a parable, make a journey, move away, travel, let go, mix, cover, impose, prevent, or take something away. Dzarababi arjulihî: ضرب بأرجله He travelled. Dzarab al-ardza الأرض ضرب (without or with fî): To travel. Adzrabu اضربُ : To go. Dzârib ضارب: Depressed ground; Hard ground in a plain from much travelling on it. Dzarabtu lahû al-ardza: ضرب له الرض I went searching him. Dzarbun ضربؤن Kind Manner; Lean; Thin; Similar; Alike; The act of striking; A blow; Going from place to place; Vicissitude of life; Affliction especially that which relates to one’s person, as disease, death, degradation is common and general suffering that strike a person.

This word has been used in the Holy Qur’ân fifty-eight times with different meanings (cf. 30:28; 43:5; 2:273; 2:60; 2:61;18:11;57:13). Thus, adzribû اضْرِبُو does not mean here to strike physically and it certainly does not mean to inflict physical punishment on women or chastise them. Meanings such as “take something away” or “put forth an example” (symbolically), let them go, can be used as the translation of this word here.

Women in Paradise: Men ask questions about the status of women and their conditions in “Paradise” and about what is waiting for them there. It is also permissible for women to ask about their reward in Paradise. Qur’ȃn clearly gives an answer:

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتِ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلَا يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا

“But whosoever does deeds of righteousness be it male or female, provided he (or she) is a believer, it is these, then who shall enter Paradise and shall not be treated unjustly even (so much as) the groove in a date-stone.” (4:124).

Reward of Paradise is not for men alone; rather, it is prepared for the righteous أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ (3:133). How can one say that women have no soul and they will exist as sexless being in the next life. This is what Christian Fathers make their “sheep” to believe, not Qur’ȃn.

ادْخُلُوا الْجَنَّةَ أَنتُمْ وَأَزْوَاجُكُمْ تُحْبَرُونَ يُطَافُ عَلَيْهِم بِصِحَافٍ مِّن ذَهَبٍ وَأَكْوَابٍ ۖ وَفِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِيهِ الْأَنفُسُ وَتَلَذُّ الْأَعْيُنُ ۖ وَأَنتُمْ فِيهَا خَالِدُونَ وَتِلْكَ الْجَنَّةُ الَّتِي أُورِثْتُمُوهَا بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ لَكُمْ فِيهَا فَاكِهَةٌ كَثِيرَةٌ مِّنْهَا تَأْكُلُونَ

“Enter Paradise, you and your spouses, you will be honoured and cheered (there). There they will be served in a round with bowls of gold and drinking cups and there, (in Paradise) will be (present) all that (their) souls desire and (their) eyes find delight in. And you will be abiding therein for-ever. And such is the Paradise which you shall have as your own, because of your (righteous) deeds. Therein you shall have fruit in abundance, enough for you to eat (and spare).” (43:70-73)

People ask who are then the Houris, from where they come? Houris are the English rendering of the Arabic word hûr حُورٌ, which is the plural form of ahwarأحوَر (masculine) and hauraحَورَ (feminine). Thus hûr حوْر stands both for masculine and feminine in plural form. It is derived from hâraحارَ meaning “to be perplexed”, “to become dazzled”. It can be anything when one looks at, the eyes become perplexed and dazzled. This is how Paradise is described. Houris are not female virgin of the dreams of Muslim clergy. People ask what happens to old women? How they fair in Paradise?. The Holy Qur’ȃn gives an answer:

إِنَّا أَنشَأْنَاهُنَّ إِنشَاءً فَجَعَلْنَاهُنَّ أَبْكَارًا عُرُبًا أَتْرَابًا

“We have made them excellent and have raised them into a special new creation; and have made them virgins, pure and undefiled. They are the loving ones, suiting to their ages and matching them in every respect”. (56:22-24)