THE IMPORTANCE OF WOMEN
people are unaware of the importance and value Islam places upon
women. Women who do not know this reality, as well as all people
with insufficient knowledge of the Qur'an, try to protect their
rights by working within their worldview, which follows the logic
of unbelief. Social conditions around the world make this reality
very obvious. For example, many women continue to be exposed to
ill-treatment, violence, and unemployment, and need to be taken
care of after their husbands have either divorced or abandoned them,
or have died.
These problems will not be solved until people turn to the only
source that can provide true and lasting solutions: the Qur'an.
No strategy based upon an unbelieving society's logic and values
will succeed, as Allah reveals:
If the truth were to follow their whims and desires,
the heavens and Earth and everyone in them would have been brought
to ruin. No indeed! We have given them that by which they are
remembered [i.e. their honor, eminence and dignity], but they
have turned away from it. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 71)
When people base their lives on the rights and wrongs of their
own making, the results will always be disastrous. Everything and
everybody is thus destined to continue on its path of degeneration.
Given the persistence of the values based on unbelief, and despite
being aware of their troubled lifestyle, unbelievers cannot find
a lasting solution to their problems. Thus, they find themselves
continuing to turn away from the only path that will lead them to
prosperity, even though they are very well aware of it.
The only solution is the Qur'an, which provides the easiest, as
well as the most content and beautiful path, by which to live. The
only path that can lead toward righteousness is His path, for only
it leads to goodness and prosperity. Allah reveals that the Qur'an
brings people honor and dignity, and that all who abide by its values
and follow this righteous path will find success in everything they
All true and lasting solutions to women's problems are found in
the Qur'an. Islam, which was revealed to guide humanity to salvation,
genuinely values women. Many verses protect women and their rights,
for the Qur'an eliminated the prevalent misguided stereotypes of
women and gave them a respectable position in society. Our Lord
teaches that superiority in His presence is based not on gender,
but rather on one's fear and respect of Allah, faith, good character,
devotion, and dedication to Him.
Allah has revealed the steps that women need to take to ensure
their protection and respect within society, and for them to find
the love and dignity that they deserve. All of these measures benefit
women and seek to prevent damage to their interests or any form
of oppression and unnecessary stress.
In the next section, we will discuss how the Qur'an ensures that
women are treated according to their true value and honor. As Allah
has revealed, Islam values all people and brings honor, dignity,
and respectability to them in both worlds.
The Only Measure of True
Unbelievers, whose values differ from those revealed in the Qur'an,
lead their lives according to their society's values, which are
the product of their own reasoning and therefore unreliable. In
one verse, Allah asks the following question:
Do they, then, seek the judgment of the Time
of Ignorance? Who could be better at giving judgment than Allah
for people with certainty? (Surat al-Ma'ida: 50)
One of the values based on unbelief is the criteria for superiority.
The unbelievers' criteria for distinction and superiority are derived
from such worldly values as property, status, career, fame, or physical
attraction. If they cannot meet these criteria, they admire those
who can and feel relatively worthless in comparison.
As a result, the details of everyday situations become important
when classifying people. For example, some people consider it vital
that they live in a posh suburb, have the newest and most desirable
car, have parents with very successful careers, and have a desirable
profession. Or, they want expensive and designer-label clothing,
well-placed relatives, a diploma from the best university, and so
on. When choosing their friends, associates, or even their potential
spouse, they follow these same criteria.
In many countries, people place great importance upon skin color,
the language they speak, or their nationality. In fact, the same
criteria for superiority apply to all unbelieving societies, with
only some minor differences based upon culture, history, and other
At the root of women's proper role lie the very same wrong criteria.
By applying their society's misguided tradition and self-made criteria,
they continue to treat women as second-class citizens.
Allah, on the other hand, reveals that the best and truest criteria
is His. The Qur'an reveals that He has only one criterion: a person's
fear and respect of Him:
O humanity! We created you from a male and female,
and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to
know each other. The noblest among you in Allah's sight is the
one who guards against evil [one with the most taqwa]. Allah is
All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Surat al-Hujurat: 13)
O Children of Adam! We have sent down clothing
to you to conceal your private parts, as well as fine apparel,
but the garment of heedfulness-that is best! That is one of Allah's
Signs, so that, hopefully, you will pay heed. (Surat al-A'raf:
In yet another verse, Allah reveals that this fear and respect
is the most beneficial quality that they can attain: "Whatever good
you do, Allah knows it. Take provision; but the best provision is
the fear [and respect] of Allah. So have fear [and respect] of Me,
O people of intelligence!" (Surat al-Baqara: 197) Therefore, people
should not strive for wealth and property, or fame and status, but
rather for the fear and respect of Allah, for only this quality
will make them superior and valued in both worlds.
Allah also advises people not to seek wealth, which has become
a measure of superiority among people, but to ask for His good will:
Do not covet what Allah has given to some of
you in preference to others-men have a portion of what they acquire
and women have a portion of what they acquire; but ask Allah for
His bounty. Allah has knowledge of all things. (Surat an-Nisa':
Thus, those who measure superiority in terms of gender, physical
strength, or any other value built upon unbelief are making a great
mistake. As He says in the Qur'an: "The men
and women who give charity and make a good loan to Allah will have
it increased for them, and they will have a generous reward" (Surat
al-Hadid: 18). This verse reminds people, men as well as women,
that only by living according to the morality that He revealed in
the Qur'an can they find the true and superior reward.
Men and Women Are Equal
No doubt, every society knows all of the traditional arguments
about women's ideal role and place. Their social status and importance
in the family, whether or not they should work, and other social
issues have been discussed seemingly forever. For Muslims, these
issues were settled by the Qur'an: Men and women are equal. The
facts that men and women have different physical builds and that
women are generally weaker than men are irrelevant and cannot be
used to reduce women's value.
What truly matters in Islamic morality is not whether someone is
male or female, but whether or not he or she is a believer who fears
and respects Allah. Each believer is expected to strive to live
by the Qur'an's morality, for the results of this struggle are what
Allah values and will measure in the Hereafter. Allah reveals the
qualities that all Muslims, male or female, should have:
The men and women of the believers are friends
of one another. They command what is right and forbid what is
wrong, keep up prayer and give the alms [zakat], and obey Allah
and His Messenger. They are the people on whom Allah will have
mercy. Allah is Almighty, All-Wise. (Surat at-Tawba: 71)
As Allah reveals, all Muslims, regardless of their gender, have
the same responsibilities: to worship Allah, live according to the
Qur'an's morality, command good and prevent evil, and abide by the
Qur'an's rules and advice. Allah promises everyone who fears and
respects the limits that He has established for humanity that He
will give them the ability to distinguish right from wrong:
O you who believe! If you have fear of [and respect]
Allah, He will give you discrimination, erase your bad actions,
and forgive you. Allah's favor is indeed immense. (Surat al-Anfal:
One's gender has no bearing on this, for Allah has given everyone
an intellect capable of leading him or her to the right path, reaching
the right decisions, and giving the right responses in return for
belief and devotion. Therefore, intellect has nothing to do with
gender; rather, it has everything to do with one's devotion, fear,
and respect of Allah.
Any man or woman who acts on the impulses of the intellect derived
from belief can achieve success in many areas. This depends on their
will, motivation, and persistence. Believers never rest on their
laurels, for it is part of Islamic morality to always strive to
be more intelligent, talented, responsible, and virtuous, as well
as to seek to always improve upon their character. Allah reveals
that believers pray to Him for a character that will make them role
models for those around them:
Those who say: "Our Lord, give us joy in our
wives and children, and make us a good example for those who guard
against evil." (Surat al-Furqan: 74)
A Muslim woman who does her best in everything she undertakes and
who works to develop an exemplary character and morality, will excel
in her society. She will carry out her responsibilities competently,
reach the right decisions, find the best solutions, and take the
most appropriate actions.
As explained earlier, Islam states that men and women are totally
equal. For both of them, it all depends on their ability to exceed
what is expected of them by realizing the full potential of their
character and personality, and by fulfilling their responsibilities.
For this reason, believing women do not struggle for equality with
men, but exert themselves in the race to do good, defined in the
Qur'an as the effort to win Allah's good pleasure. For this end,
they race to become the person most loved by Allah so that they
may win His good pleasure and be the nearest to Him. Allah reveals
that these efforts determine the Muslim's superiority over others
in this life as well as in the Hereafter:
Such people are truly racing toward good things,
and they are the first to reach them. (Surat al-Mu'minun: 61)
Then We made Our chosen servants inherit the
Book. But some of them wrong themselves, some are ambivalent,
and some outdo each other in good by Allah's permission. That
is the great favor. (Surah Fatir: 32)
The equality between men and women is also seen in the fact that
Allah gives them equal rights in this world:
We made everything on Earth adornment for it
so that We could test them to see whose actions are the best.
(Surat al-Kahf: 7)
Every soul will taste death. We test you with
both good and evil as a trial. And you will be returned to Us.
(Surat al-Anbiya': 35)
In the above verses, Allah reveals that He tests men and women
so that they can show who is better. In another verse, He says that
He will test men and women with various trials until the day they
die, and that those who show patience will be rewarded with His
We will test you with a certain amount of fear
and hunger, as well as loss of wealth, life, and fruits. But give
good news to the steadfast. (Surat al-Baqara: 155)
Allah gave each man and woman a fixed number of years, holds them
both responsible for their choices, gave them a sense of right and
wrong, and made their base instincts and Satan their enemies. And
whoever shows strength of character and works for good in the face
of these realities here on Earth will receive the best rewards from
Allah in both worlds:
I will not let the deeds of any doer among you
go to waste, male or female-you are both the same in that respect.
Those who have left their homes and were driven from their homes,
and [who] suffered harm in My Way and fought and were killed,
I will erase their bad actions and admit them into Gardens with
rivers flowing under them, as a reward from Allah. The best of
all rewards is with Allah. (Surah Al 'Imran: 195)
He also reminds men and women that no one will be treated unjustly
as regards the rewards they are to receive on Earth as well as in
the Hereafter: "Anyone who acts rightly, male
or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and will
recompense them according to the best of what they did" (Surat
The Qur'an Addresses Men
and Women in the Same Manner
Looking at the Qur'an in general, we see that men and women are
addressed in the same manner. This is yet another indication that
Allah is concerned only with a person's true and heart-felt belief
and not his or her age or gender. In this respect, the Qur'an addresses
men and women together and reminds them that they have the same
responsibilities. There are many such verses, among them: "Anyone,
male or female, who does right actions and believes, will enter
the Garden. They will not be wronged by so much as the tiniest speck"
(Surat an-Nisa: 124).
Another verse in which Allah addresses men and women together is
Whoever does an evil act will only be repaid
with its equivalent. But whoever acts rightly, male or female,
being a believer, such a person will enter the Garden, wherein
they will be provided for without any reckoning. (Surah Ghafir:
When revealing things about unbelievers, Allah also addresses them
in the same manner. He reveals that unbelievers and hypocrites of
both genders will be treated alike. For example:
The men and women of the hypocrites are as bad
as one another. They command what is wrong and forbid what is
right, and they keep their fists tightly closed. They have forgotten
Allah, so He has forgotten them. The hypocrites are deviators.
(Surat at-Tawba: 67)
Allah has promised the men and women of the hypocrites
and unbelievers the Fire of Hell, remaining in it timelessly,
forever. It will suffice them. Allah has cursed them. They will
have an everlasting punishment. (Surat at-Tawba: 68)
This was so that Allah might punish hypocritical
men and women as well as the associating men and women-those who
think bad thoughts about Allah, and turn toward the men and women
of the believers. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surat
And so that He might punish hypocritical men
and women as well as associating men and women-those who think
bad thoughts about Allah. They will suffer an evil turn of fate.
Allah is angry with them, has cursed them, and prepared Hell for
them. What an evil destination! (Surat al-Fath: 6)
As these verses make clear, men and women are equal in their trial
on Earth as well as in the reward they receive in the Hereafter.
The Value of Mothers
Islamic morality guarantees all people's social and personal lives
and shows them how to live the easiest, most content, and happiest
life. This morality prescribes justice, tolerance, compassion, and
helpfulness toward all people, regardless of gender, age, and economic
status. Irrespective of whom they are dealing with, Muslims are
required to always abide by this morality as best they can. Muslims
adopt these superior moral characteristics because Allah tells them
to do so. As a result, a person's social status, gender, age, and
other such characteristics are irrelevant to them.
Allah states the importance of treating women, especially mothers,
well. Parents do their best to give their children a good education,
a decent character, and teach them to treat all other people properly.
Given that they make many sacrifices, financial or otherwise, for
many years, the children are obligated to return their efforts and
selfless support with respect and service. Allah reveals this responsibility:
We have instructed man to honor his parents.
(Surat al-'Ankabut: 8)
We have instructed man to be good to his parents.
(Surat al-Ahqaf: 15)
Say: "Come, and I will recite to you what your
Lord has made forbidden to you: that you do not associate anything
with Him, that you be good to your parents, that you do not kill
your children because of poverty-We will provide for you and them,
that you do not approach indecency-outward or inward, and that
you do not kill any person Allah has made inviolate-except with
the right to do so. That is what He instructs you to do so that,
hopefully, you will use your intellect." (Surat al-An'am: 151)
Qur'an also reveals that one must treat parents well and avoid arrogance
Worship Allah, and do not associate anything
with Him. Be good to your parents and relatives, orphans and the
very poor, neighbors who are related to you and neighbors who
are not related to you, companions and travelers, and your slaves.
Allah does not love anyone vain or boastful. (Surat an-Nisa':
Clearly, Allah advises people to always be tolerant, understanding,
compassionate, and respectful toward their parents. He also reminds
us of the difficulties that mothers suffer while giving birth and
raising their children. For example:
We have instructed man concerning his parents.
Bearing him caused his mother great debility, and the period of
his weaning was two years: "Give thanks to Me and to your parents.
I am your final destination." (Surah Luqman: 14)
We have instructed man to be good to his parents.
His mother bore him with difficulty and, with difficulty, gave
birth to him; and his bearing and weaning take thirty months.
Then when he achieves his full strength and reaches forty, he
says: "My Lord, keep me thankful for the blessing You bestowed
on me and on my parents, and keep me acting rightly, pleasing
You. Make my descendants righteous. I have repented to You, and
I am truly one of the Muslims." (Surat al-Ahqaf: 15)
Every mother suffers for many months and displays great devotion
in order to give birth. As Allah reveals, this is an agonizing process
for her. After this period, she adopts a selfless devotion and begins
to feed and nurture her child. Allah reminds people of this reality
and points out that mothers are very special beings. In addition,
He advises people not to forget their parents' selfless devotion
to them and to treat them equally well when they reach old age and
Your Lord has decreed that you should worship
none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents.
Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say
"Ugh!" to them out of irritation, and do not be harsh with them;
rather, speak to them with gentleness and generosity. Take them
under your wing, out of mercy, with due humility and say: "O Lord,
show mercy to them as they did in looking after me when I was
small." (Surat al-Isra': 23-24)
As we all know, old age means the loss of physical strength, dynamism,
health, and energy. Such people become dependent on other people's
care, protection, and help. Their mental faculties decrease, and
they come face to face with memory loss and other problems. Muslims,
as required by Allah, treat their elderly parents with compassion,
tolerance, understanding, and care.
In the verses cited above, Allah reveals how Muslims should treat
their elderly parents. As we see, He forbids Muslims to show even
the slightest disrespect toward their parents and commands them
to say nice things and treat them gently so that they will have
no reason to become upset. As a result, Muslims are very understanding,
considerate, and careful with their elderly parents. They do their
best to make their parents comfortable and continue to love and
respect them. Considering the difficulties and complaints associated
with old age, Muslims try to provide for their parents' needs before
being asked to do so. Whatever the circumstances, they are always
polite and giving.
Muslims not only provide for their parents' spiritual and psychological
needs, but also do everything to meet their material and financial
needs. Allah reveals that parents have rights to their children's
They will ask you what they should give away.
Say: "Any wealth you give away should go to your parents and relatives,
orphans and the very poor, and travelers." Whatever good you do,
Allah knows it. (Surat al-Baqara: 215)
Prophet Yusuf's (as) exemplary treatment of his parents is a perfect
example for all people. Following his appointment by the King as
treasurer of Egypt, he hosted his parents in the most respectable
manner and then expressed his gratitude and devotion to them by
seating them on the throne. Allah reveals Yusuf's (as) behavior:
Then when they entered into Yusuf's presence,
he drew his parents close to him and said: "Enter Egypt safe and
sound, if Allah wills." He raised his parents up onto the throne.
The others fell prostrate in front of him. He said: "My father,
truly this is now the interpretation of the dream I had. My Lord
has made it all come true, and He was kind to me by letting me
out of prison and brought you from the desert when Satan had caused
dissent between me and my brothers. My Lord is kind to anyone
He wills. He is indeed All-Knowing and All-Wise." (Surah Yusuf:
The Qur'an reveals that believers pray for their
parents and for Allah's forgiveness and mercy for them. From some
of the verses, we gather that the Prophets made similar prayers.
Allah reveals that Prophet Nuh (as) prayed for his parents: "O
My Lord, forgive me and my parents and all who enter my house
as believers, and all the men and women of the believers. But
do not increase the wrongdoers except in ruin" (Surah Nuh: 28).
We understand from the Qur'an that Islamic morality places a great
value on parents. Allah makes clear that such character traits are
important for all Muslims when they are young as well as when they
However, in certain cases believers are required to disobey their
parents. For example:
But if they try to make you associate something
with Me about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Keep
company with them correctly and courteously in this world, but
follow the way of him who turns to Me. Then you will return to
Me, and I will inform you about the things you did. (Surah Luqman:
Through this verse, Allah advises Muslims to disobey their parents
only if the latter choose to rebel against Allah and encourage their
children to do the same. But still, as required by Islam's morality,
one must not be disrespectful toward them and must honor their wishes
and treat them well.
Women in Married Life
Relationships based on worldly values can degenerate into baseness,
as often happens in marriage. When people's love and respect is
based on these values, they can lose these feelings quickly when
circumstances change. This is almost inevitable when love, respect,
and loyalty depend on one's beauty, wealth, health, job, or status,
for when these temporary and superficial characteristics disappear,
so will the other person's love. Someone who follows such criteria
will find no reason to continue to love and honor his or her spouse
when the basis for those values is lost.
Belief, fear and respect of Allah, and decency of character are
what make love, respect, and loyalty endure. Someone who loves his
or her spouse for their belief and character will, in married life,
be respectful, loyal, and decent. Losing one's youth, health, or
beauty will not affect the love and consideration among spouses
for each other, and neither will losing one's wealth or social status.
They will not cause trouble or discontent to the other person because
of their firm belief and fear and respect of Allah, whatever the
circumstances. Believers will always be gentle and compassionate,
as well as fair and tolerant, for they will consider this to be
a responsibility entrusted to them by Allah.
So close is the marital relationship that the Qur'an says of the
spouses: "They are clothing for you, and
you for them" (Surat al-Baqara: 187). In this verse, Allah
reminds people that each spouse has equal responsibilities. The
word "clothing" stands for the responsibility of guarding and protecting
one another and also suggests that men and women have complementary
Another verse states the importance of love and compassion in marriage:
"Among His Signs is that He created spouses
for you of your own kind, so that you might find tranquillity in
them. And He has placed affection and compassion between you. There
are certainly Signs in that for people who reflect" (Surat
ar-Rum: 21). Believers consider their spouses to be gifts that Allah
has given into their care, and therefore value one another greatly.
They show affection and compassion when their spouse makes a mistake
or falls short in some way, and know that behaving according to
the Qur'an will help them overcome all difficulties and solve their
problems. As a result, marriage helps both spouses find contentment
With the phrase "you have been intimate with
one another" (Surat an-Nisa': 21), Allah proclaims the closeness
and intimacy of married life. The secret of this closeness, intimacy,
and valuing of each other is their intention to create an everlasting
togetherness that will extend into the Hereafter. True loyalty and
love requires this attitude. Since their love is neither selfish
nor temporary, but intended to be everlasting, they are completely
loyal, close, honest, and intimate with one another.
As we have seen, the Qur'an's morality forms the basis for a marital
relationship based on togetherness, one in which both parties fear
and respect Allah and follow His morality. In such a relationship,
each person's loyalty, faithfulness, love, sincerity, tolerance,
and modesty complement and support the other person. Such a marriage
is stable and long-lasting. The marriages of people without these
qualities, on the other hand, are short-lived.
For these reasons, Islam considers marriage to be a comfort for
women, for in it she experiences love, respect, loyalty, and faithfulness
in the best possible way. She is always respected, valued, and honored.
The absence of any pride, superiority complex, and lies enables
her to find peace and contentment.
Our Prophet (saas) became a great example for
all Muslims in this respect. Allah refers to this reality in the
following verse: "You have an excellent model
in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and
the Last Day and remember Allah much" (Surat al-Ahzab: 21).
He frequently stated the importance and value of Muslim women, as
in this hadith: "The whole world is a provision, and the best object
of benefit of the world is the pious woman."16
In another hadith, he said: "The most perfect
believer in faith is the one who is the best of them in good conduct.
The best of you is the one among you who treats his wife the best."17
His impeccable behavior is a role model for all Muslims. In one
hadith, he points out the importance of treating married women in
the nicest way:
"The best of you is the one who is the best
to his wives, and I am the best of you toward my wives."18
He reminded everyone in a hadith of the importance
of valuing women: "Act kindly toward women."19
Our Prophet (saas), who is a role model for all
believers, always treated his wives gently, nicely, and with compassion.
Aisha said: "I have never seen a man who was more compassionate
to his family members than Muhammad (saas)."20
Being Protective of Women
By proclaiming "We send down in the Qur'an
that which is a healing and a mercy to the believers," (Surat
al-Isra': 82) Allah states that Islamic morality will always direct
people toward the good and that the Qur'an's verses are a mercy
for them. These verses, revealed to create contentment and justice
among people, guarantee the rights of women in both their social
and family lives. And, the verse "We bring
you the truth and the best of explanations" (Surat al-Furqan:
33) makes clear the fact that the Qur'an contains all of the knowledge
needed to find the value, love, and respect that they deserve in
every aspect of their lives.
This is a great mercy, comfort, and gift from Allah for women as
well. When people behave according to the Qur'an's morals, all disputes
over the role and place of women in society, as well as the controversy
surrounding them in unbelieving societies, will certainly come to
We will now explore some of the verses that guard women's social
rights and reveal their importance and value in Islam's moral system.
Divorcing Women with Their
The believers' fear and respect of Allah, as well as their belief,
cause them to obey their conscience and the Qur'an's values at every
moment. But for unbelievers, their base instincts and Satan are
their guiding influences. Thus, they seek to satisfy their self-interest
and their ego instead of acting fairly and nicely. This scenario
is often seen when relationships end, such as a marriage based upon
For these people, divorce means the end of all bonds based on mutual
interest, for when these interests no longer exist, there is no
longer any reason for them to value or respect the other party.
As a result, they see no reason to do anything good for that person,
and so move to protect their own interests regardless of the other
Believers display a totally different type of behavior in such
circumstances, for their only goal in life is to win Allah's good
pleasure. Fully aware that following the whims of their self-interest
or ego displeases Him, they adhere to the Qur'an's morality and
their conscience. Therefore, even in the case of divorce, they treat
each other well and with justice.
Allah commands men to divorce their wives in the best possible
way: "When you divorce women and they are
near the end of their waiting period, then either retain them with
correctness and courtesy or release them with correctness and courtesy"
(Surat al-Baqara: 231). Pursuing only Allah's good pleasure,
they treat their ex-wives with tolerance, compassion, politeness,
respect, and thoughtfulness, thereby continuing their former loving
and respectful manner toward each other. Allah reveals the male
believers' correct behavior in such circumstances:
O you who believe! When you marry believing women
and then divorce them before you have touched them, there is no
waiting period for you to calculate for them, so give them a gift
and let them go with kindness. (Surat al-Ahzab: 49)
Guaranteeing Divorced Women's
Allah reveals that a sincere Muslim man must guarantee his ex-wife's
financial security in order to safeguard her continued financial
Divorced women should receive maintenance given
with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all who guard against
evil. (Surat al-Baqara: 241)
When determining this amount, a Muslim man must act conscientiously
and consider his ex-wife's social standing and needs. The Qur'an
... Provide for them-He who is wealthy according
to his means, and he who is less well off according to his means-a
provision to be given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for
all good-doers. (Surat al-Baqara: 236)
He who has plenty should spend out of his plenty
(to those women he divorces), but he whose provision is restricted
should spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not demand
from anyone more than He has given it. Allah will appoint, after
difficulty, ease. (Surat at-Talaq: 7)
In other words, Allah holds everyone, without exception, responsible
according to their financial means and requires them to pay a suitable
maintenance. Some unbelievers consider it a waste of money to pay
alimony to their ex-wives, because they neither believe in the Hereafter
nor seek Allah's good pleasure. Since they only wish to safeguard
their self-interest, they consider pointless to act selflessly toward
someone from whom they are estranged and thus can expect no benefit.
For this reason, they seek to avoid this responsibility, at least
partially or completely. On the other hand, male believers, as mentioned
above, continue to treat their ex-wives well and do what they can
to meet their financial needs.
Believers understand that it is not necessarily what they do, but
rather what their true intention is, that will win them His good
pleasure. This truth is explained in the following words: "Their
flesh and blood does not reach Allah, but your heedfulness does
reach Him" (Surat al-Hajj: 37). For this reason, a believing
man willingly fulfills his responsibilities toward his ex-wife in
this respect. However, if she does not wish to receive her due and
if she wishes to forego this right, her former husband cannot be
held responsible: "Give women their dowry
as an outright gift. But if they are happy to give you some of it,
make use of it with pleasure and goodwill" (Surat an-Nisa':
Ex-Wives Retain Their Property
The Qur'an also protects a woman's interests by stating that she
retains what her former husband gave her while they were married:
"If you desire to exchange one wife for another
and have given your original wife a large amount, do not take any
of it. Would you take it by means of slander and outright crime?
How could you take it when you have been intimate with one another,
and they have made a binding contract with you?" (Surat an-Nisa':
Allah reminds people that believing men must respect the terms
of their marriage agreement. One of these terms is that regardless
of the amount of property or money that a woman receives from her
husband during their marriage, he has no right to take it back after
he divorces her. Believing men know this truth, and so do their
best to obey this command.
It is not lawful for you to keep anything you
have given them, unless a couple fears that they will not remain
within Allah's limits [that He established for humanity]. If you
fear that they will not remain within these limits, there is nothing
wrong in the wife ransoming herself with some of what she received.
These are Allah's limits [that He established for humanity], so
do not overstep them. Those who overstep these limits are wrongdoers.
(Surat al-Baqara: 229)
As seen, Islamic morality has a very high opinion of women and
seeks to prevent them from suffering any difficulties or hardships.
Thus, believing men safeguard the rights of women and are most considerate
Housing Divorced Women
When it comes to housing an ex-wife, Allah proclaims: "Let
them live where you live, according to your means. Do not put pressure
on them, so as to harass them. If they are pregnant, maintain them
until they give birth. If they are suckling for you, give them their
wages and consult together with correctness and courtesy. But if
you make things difficult for one another, another woman should
do the suckling for you" (Surat at-Talaq: 6). Believing men
are required to meet their ex-wives' every need, both material and
otherwise, so that they will not fall upon hard times. First, the
ex-wife must be housed until a suitable home can be arranged for
her. If she is pregnant, her former husband must cover all of the
costs associated with her health and care until she gives birth.
What truly matters here is that believing men act in a thoughtful
and understanding manner, whatever the circumstances may be, and
ensure that the ex-wife's financial and other needs be met so that
she will not experience any hardship. All of these matters must
be resolved as prescribed in the Qur'an.
Do Not Inherit Women by
Allah has made many recommendations in order to safeguard women's
social rights. For example, He reminds believers:
O you who believe! There is no permission for
you to inherit women by force. Nor may you treat them harshly,
so that you can make off with part of what you have given them,
unless they commit an act of flagrant indecency. Live together
with them correctly and courteously. (Surat an-Nisa': 19)
Safeguarding the Rights
of Orphaned Girls
The verse below draws our attention toward the correct treatment
They will consult you concerning women. Say:
"Allah advises about them; and also what is recited to you in
the Book about orphan girls to whom you do not give the inheritance
they are owed, while at the same time desiring to marry them;
and also about young children who are denied their rights: that
you should act justly with respect to orphans." Whatever good
you do, Allah knows it. (Surat an-Nisa': 127)
Some unbelievers seek to dispossess those weak and vulnerable people
who have no guardian to look after their best interests. One group
of such people consists of female orphans who, because of their
wealth, are often sought out by greedy men. Allah warns believers
about these evil-minded people, reveals their character traits,
and commands them to be righteous.
Believers know that Allah is All-Seeing and will call them to account
for their actions in the Hereafter. They are aware of the loss awaiting
those who cheat and defraud people here or are unjust or merciless
to them. Given this reality, they shun all such evil, knowing that
a little avarice in this life could lead to eternal suffering in
the Hereafter. Therefore, they safeguard the orphan's interests
and do what they can to keep all evil-minded people away from them.
Likewise, they strictly honor the rights of any orphan they seek
to marry and have no secret plan to acquire her wealth for themselves.
16. Sahih Muslim, Book 8, No.
17. Imam Ghazzali, Ihya Ulum-Id-Din (The Book of Religious Learnings)
(New Delhi: Islamic Book Service, 2001), 2:32.
18. Ibid., 2:32.
19. Sahih Muslim, Book 8, No. 3468; al-Bukhari hadiths.
20. Sahih Muslim, "Kitab al-Fada'il," 63.