A study of the Quran and Hadith  tells us that a woman enjoys the same status as a man in Islam. The Quran says:

“You are members, one of another.” (3:195)

The two have no difference regarding status, rights, and blessings in this world and the Hereafter.

Men and women can be likened to a cart running on two wheels. Each of the wheels contributes equally to the running of the cart. Even if only one of the wheels goes out of order, the cart will stop. The way a cart traverses its path with the help of the two wheels, precisely in the same way, with the cooperation of men and women, the life system can be run efficiently. Thus, the biological division of human beings into male and female is the result of purposeful planning by the Creator.

The first verse that we find in the Quran on this subject is as follows:

“O mankind! Fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul. He created its mate from it and from the two of them spread countless men and women [throughout the earth]. Fear God, in whose name you appeal to one another, and be mindful of your obligations in respect of ties of kinship. God is always watching over you.” (4:1)

This verse of the Quran tells us that God has created man and woman from the same soul, that is, from the same substance. The human race has come from Adam and Eve, the first man and the first woman. Looked at in this way, human beings are blood brothers and blood sisters.

Another verse of the Quran reads:

“It was He who created you from a single soul, and from it made its mate so that he may find comfort in her.” (7:189)

This verse stresses what is common between man and woman; both are a source of comfort to one another. The word ‘comfort’ relates to all the activities of life, meaning thereby that God has created men and women in such a way that they assist one another in all matters so that life’s journey continues peacefully and successfully.

In the early period of Islam, both sexes were fully active in different fields of life, from housework to agriculture and horticulture and from worship in the mosque to the battleground.

In Islamic history, there are many examples of women giving invaluable help to their husbands in critical situations. One of the most notable was Khadijah, the wife of the Prophet of Islam, who successfully brought the Prophet back from a state of fear and trembling to a state of normalcy after he received the first divine revelation in the solitude of the Cave of Hira from the Angel Gabriel. She was able to reassure him that his life was not, as he feared, in danger, as she was emotionally detached from the incident. She observed: “God will surely never forsake you. You are kind to your kin; you always help the weak; take care of whoever crosses your threshold; give solace to the weary; speak the truth.” (Al-Seerah al-Nabwiyah, Ibn Kathir, Vol. 1, pp 385-86)

So, we see that Islam gives women equal status as that of men. The following Hadith gives an apt description of the role of women: “Men and women are two halves of a single unit.” (Sunan Abi Dawood, Hadith No. 236)

We see that the scriptures of Islam make it clear that neither sex is inferior or superior to the other. However, studies in biology and psychology show that the sexes are different, each being designed for a different purpose. So, the Islamic maxim runs:

“Equal in respect, but different in role.”

In Islam, therefore, a woman enjoys the same status as that of a man. There is no difference between man and woman regarding status, rights, and blessings in this world and the Hereafter. Both are considered equal participants in carrying out the functions of daily living.

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
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