Are Women Equal to Men in Islam?
This is a common question asked by non-Muslims. These questions are regarding inheritance, polygamy, the veiling of women, and many other issues where men may have more rights than women in Islam. This article shall discuss the concept of gender equality in Islam and the difference between equality and justice.
Islam recognizes that there is a large difference between the nature of a man and the nature of a woman. Men usually have stronger bodies. They are usually less driven by emotions than women. This usually results that a man thinking in a calmer atmosphere than a woman. A woman passes through physiological variations during her menstrual cycle and pregnancy, while a man doesn’t. These are some of the differences between a man and a woman.
God gave each gender the duties and responsibilities based on his nature. That’s why a man is more concerned with hard work to gain money where he can spend on his family. Not all the work can be done by a woman, especially when during the phases of pregnancy and child care. Besides, there are many types of work in tough atmospheres which may not be suitable for a woman in many cases.
On the other hand, a woman is concerned more with taking care of her house and children. Because a woman is usually more emotional than a man, she gets closer to her children than their father. That’s why taking care of children is more suitable for a woman than for a man.
Based on the difference in nature between both genders and the nature of the jobs suitable for each one, the rights of men are not the same as the rights of women. Each one has the rights that suit his nature and responsibilities. For example, in the case of inheritance, a brother takes double the inheritance of his sister since the brother should prepare for his marriage and spend on his family.
A woman is not asked to spend a cent on her house. In the case of polygamy, a man could easily be fair with his wives if he just divided the days between them. For a woman to do this, it will be much difficult as she passes through the menstrual cycle and pregnancy. In these cases, not all men shall have the ability to have sex with her. In the case of veiling of women, a man is not subject to sexual harassment or rape as a woman is.
Actually, there are cases where a woman may have rights that are not for men as wearing gold and silk. The point is that Islam is not concerned with equality. Islam is concerned with justice. It’s a fact that there are natural differences between the two genders, so how should they be equal in everything?