Women in Islam

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Girl Reciting the Qurān (Kuran Okuyan Kız), an 1880 painting by the Ottoman polymath Osman Hamdi Bey, whose works often showed women engaged in educational activities.[1]

The experiences of

Arabic: مسلمات Muslimāt, singular مسلمة Muslimah) vary widely between and within different societies.[2][3] At the same time, their adherence to Islam is a shared factor that affects their lives to a varying degree and gives them a common identity that may serve to bridge the wide cultural, social, and economic differences between them.[2][3][4]

Among the influences which have played an important role in defining the social, legal, spiritual, and cosmological status of women in the course of

companions;[6] ijmā', which is a scholarly consensus, expressed or tacit, on a question of law;[7] qiyās, the principle by which the laws of the Quran and the sunnah or prophetic custom are applied to situations not explicitly covered by these two sources of legislation;[8] and fatwā
, non-binding published opinions or decisions regarding religious doctrine or points of law.

Additional influences include pre-Islamic cultural traditions; secular laws, which are fully accepted in Islam so long as they do not directly contradict Islamic precepts;

Diyanet;[10] and spiritual teachers, which are particularly prominent in Islamic mysticism or Sufism. Many of the latter, including the medieval Muslim philosopher Ibn Arabi, have themselves produced texts that have elucidated the metaphysical symbolism of the feminine principle in Islam.[11]

Sources of influence

There are four

sources of influence under Islam for Muslim women. The first two, the Quran and ḥadīth literature, are considered primary sources, while the other two are secondary and derived sources that differ between various Muslim sects and schools of Islamic jurisprudence. The secondary sources of influence include ijmā', qiyās, fatwā, and ijtihad.[12][13][14]


A fragment of Sūrat an-Nisā' – a chapter of Islam's sacred text entitled 'Women' – featuring the Persian, Arabic, and Kufic scripts. Islam views men and women as equal before God, and the Quran underlines that man and woman were "created of a single soul" (4:1,[15] 39:6[16] and elsewhere).[17]

Within Sunni Islam, women are provided a number of guidelines prescribed by the Quran and ḥadīth literature, as understood by fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), as well as in accordance with the interpretations derived from the ḥadīth that were agreed upon by majority of Sunni Muslim scholars as authentic beyond doubt based on ḥadīth studies.[18][19] The Quran holds that men and women have equal moral agency and they both receive equal rewards in the afterlife.[20] These interpretations and their application were shaped by the historical context of the Muslim world at the time they were written.[18]

During his life,

William Montgomery Watt states that all of Muhammad's marriages had the political aspect of strengthening friendly relationships and were based on the pre-Islamic Arabian custom.[22]


Women or Sūrat an-Nisāʼ[23] is the fourth chapter of the Quran. The title of the surah derives from the numerous references to women throughout the chapter,[24] including verses 4:34[25]: 4:34  and 4:127 – 4:130.[25]: 4:127–130 


The above primary sources of influence on women of Islam do not deal with every conceivable situation over time. This led to the development of jurisprudence and religious schools with Islamic scholars that referred to resources such as identifying authentic documents, internal discussions, and establishing a consensus to find the correct religiously approved course of action for Muslims.

fard (obligatory), mustahabb/mandub (recommended), mubah (neutral), makruh (disapproved), and haram (forbidden).[26] There is considerable controversy, change over time, and conflict between the secondary sources.[27][28][29]

Gender roles

A fifteenth-century Persian miniature depicting the Battle of the Camel, a decisive encounter between the troops of the fourth caliph 'Alī, and an opposing army rallied by Muḥammad's wife, Āʿisha.[30][31] In the aftermath of Alī's victory, Āʿisha withdrew from politics. Traditionalists have used this episode to argue that women should not play an active political role, while modernists have held up Āʿisha's legacy in arguing for gender equity in the Islamic tradition.[32]

Gender roles in Islam are simultaneously colored by two Quranic precepts: (i) spiritual equality between women and men; and (ii) the idea that women are meant to exemplify femininity, and men masculinity.[33]

Spiritual equality between women and men is detailed in Sūrat al-Aḥzāb (33:35):[34]

Verily, the Muslims: men and women, the believers: men and women, the Qanit: men and the women, the men and women who are truthful, the men and the women who are patient, the Khashi`: men and the women, the men and the women who give Sadaqat, the men and the women who fast, the men and the women who guard their chastity and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.[35]: 33:35 

Islam's basic view of women and men postulates a complementarity of functions: like everything else in the universe, humanity has been created in a pair (Sūrat al-Dhāriyāt, 51:49)[36] – neither can be complete without the other.[37] In Islamic cosmological thinking, the universe is perceived as an equilibrium built on harmonious polar relationships between the pairs that make up all things.[37] Moreover, all outward phenomena are reflections of inward noumena and ultimately of God.[37]

The emphasis which Islam places upon the feminine/masculine polarity (and therefore complementarity) results in a separation of social functions.

better source needed] Women are highly respected in many aspects of domestic life such as being praised for their knowledge as ritual specialists, healers, caretakers, and those who arrange marriages in their community.[40]

However, this separation is not, in practice, as rigid as it appears.[38] There are many examples – both in the early history of Islam and in the contemporary world – of Muslim women who have played prominent roles in public life, including being sultanas, queens, elected heads of state and wealthy businesswomen. Moreover, it is important to recognize that in Islam, home and family are firmly situated at the centre of life in this world and of society: a man's work cannot take precedence over the private realm.[39]

The Quran dedicates numerous verses and surahs to Muslim women, their role, duties and rights, such as An-Nisa (“The Women”) and Maryam, named after Mary.

Dress code