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Khutba # 38

The Prophet’s treatment of women


Let us hold to Taq’wa, which means piety and righteousness, and to revere Allah and obey His Divine Commands!  Let us be aware of our eventuality and departure into the everlasting life.  May Allah provide us all with the spirit of righteousness and obedience as best means for our salvation.


Details from the life of Rasool Allah indicate that he always treated women with high respect, fairness, and the utmost concern for their well being.


Al-Hamdu Lillaah, women of today are being drawn to Islam because of the shining exam­ple of Rasool Allah. Thus, as our new Muslim sisters study Islam, they become convinced that Islam offers genuine equity to men and women. They believe Islam's promise, as the Quran proclaims in Surah 4 (al-Nisaa), Ayah 124:


وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِنَ الصَّالِحَاتَ مِن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى وَهُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ

فَأُوْلَـئِكَ يَدْخُلُونَ الْجَنَّةَ وَلاَ يُظْلَمُونَ نَقِيرًا

And whoso does deeds of righteousness, be they male or female, and is a believer, shall enter paradise, and shall not be wronged to the slightest

In an effort to undermine the growth and revival of Islam, the Islam-bashers fre­quently indulge in misinformation about treatment of Muslim women. The fact is on the contrary, since Islam actually gives women unprece­dented rights, restores their dig­nity, and safe­guards their honor.  For Muslims, and for anyone curious about Islam, the Quran and the Sunnah offer clear guidance about how to truly liberate women.  The best ways to learn about how Islam accorded special status to women is to study the Seerah or biography of Prophet Muhammad.


Prophet Muhammad insisted that women should have complete protection from any form of physical harm or potential source of sexual harassment or molestation.[1] In Islam the principle of prevention reinforces moral rectitude.


life and to respect all female rela­tives. Although his mother passed away during his early childhood the Prophet (pbuh) recognized the pivotal role of mothers for the community of Muslims. Therefore, he encouraged his followers to offer their mothers every consideration and kindness, even to a greater extent than to their fathers.


While a form of practicing female infan­ticide was common in pre-Islamic Arabia (bury­ing their baby girls alive in the sand until they suffocated), the Divine guidance of the Quran strictly con­demned the practice. In addition, Prophet Muhammad encouraged the just and gentle par­enting of daughters. He says:[2] 


Whosoever has a daughter and does not bury her alive,

does not insult her, and does not favor his son over her,

he is Paradise-worthy.


Rasool Allah was courteous and polite to all women.  Moreover, through word and deed, he encouraged his followers to be especially concerned about the welfare of wid­ows.


The teachings of Islam emphasize that, although men and women stand equally before God and the Law, they should complement each other in family and social life. Equality before God and the Law does not destroy the real­ity of complementing each other.  The traditional structure of Islamic society is based not on quantitative equality, but on the reality that each complements the other, although there are exceptions.


In marriage a woman is considered by Islam to be an equal partner to her husband.  The Holy Quran in Surah 30 (al-Room), Ayah 21 describes the woman as a companion of her husband with reciprocal love and a source of peace and solace to him.  It says:


وَمِنْ آيَاتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُم مِّنْ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَزْوَاجًا لِّتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْهَا وَجَعَلَ بَيْنَكُم مَّوَدَّةً وَرَحْمَةً إِنَّ فِي ذَلِكَ لَآيَاتٍ لِّقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

“And among His wonders is that He created mates for you, out of your own kind,

that you may dwell in harmony with them,

and instilled love and tenderness between you. 

Verily in this are signs for those who reflect.”

In this sphere of functions, the man’s primary duty is seen as the protector and provider of his family and its imam, religiously speaking.  The woman’s primary duty is seen as that of raising children and attending to their earliest education, as well as being the basic buttress of the family.  Like all traditional societies, Islam has honored the work of homemaker and mother as being of the highest value, to the extent that the gateway to attain heavens is at the mercy of honoring and pleasing mothers.  In this regard the Prophet (pbuh) has said in a famous Hadith:


الجنّة تحت أقدام الامّهات

"Heaven lies at the feet [through the mercy] of mothers."


Within the home Muslim women usually wield great power and authority.  Anyone who thinks that in Islamic society women have always been weak or oppressed sim­ply does not know the inner workings of a Muslim family.


That does not mean, however, that there has not been in the past or does not exist in the present terrible treatment of some wives by Muslim husbands, in spite of the explicit injunctions of the Quran to honor wives and respect their possessions, and to deal kindly with them.  The Quran says in Surah 4 (al-Nisaa), Ayah 19:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ يَحِلُّ لَكُمْ أَن تَرِثُواْ النِّسَاء كَرْهًا وَلاَ تَعْضُلُوهُنَّ لِتَذْهَبُواْ بِبَعْضِ مَا آتَيْتُمُوهُنَّ إِلاَّ أَن يَأْتِينَ بِفَاحِشَةٍ مُّبَيِّنَةٍ وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسَى أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْئًا وَيَجْعَلَ اللّهُ فِيهِ خَيْرًا كَثِيراً ...

“O you who believe!  It is not lawful for you to inherit women by force, …but deal kindly with them… "

Compared to the practices prevalent in pre-Islamic Arabia, Islam effected remarkable transformations by conferring 1) economic rights on women 2) social rights upon women and 3) protecting women from injus­tice.


For the end of the 1st part of the Khutba, read Surah Al-Asr, take a short intermission, then start the 2nd part of the Khutba with a short Du’aa.


In Islam man is burdened with the economic responsibil­ity of the family, even if the wife happens to be wealthy. The Quranic law of inheritance (according to which a male inherits twice as much as a female) must be understood in light of the hus­band's responsibility to support the whole family financially, while the wife can do with her wealth as she likes.


The famous Quranic verse "Men are the protectors and main­tainers of women" (4:34) must be understood in this eco­nomic and social context, not taken to mean that the husband controls the wife's life.


Islamic sources do not prevent Muslim women from working and receiving wages.  In the agricultural sec­tor of traditional Islamic society women always worked with men and they were very active in many of the arts and crafts.  Islam gave women com­plete economic independence even from their husbands, and over the ages many women have also engaged in trade and been merchants, as was the Prophet's wife Khadija.


 Likewise, there is no objection in principle to Muslim women participating in politics. Before modern times there were even occasionally Muslim queens who ruled indepen­dently and many others who exerted great political power behind the scenes. In fact, Zainab (the granddaughter of the Prophet) played a major political role in early Islamic history, as did a number of other women.[3]

As for education, there is a Hadith that states: [4]


Seeking knowledge is a religious obligation for every Mus­lim, male and female.

Women in fact, played an especially important role in the transmission and study of Hadith, such as Umm Salama, A’isha, and a number of others. Also throughout Islamic history, there have been fine women poets and many women Sufis, some of whom were very learned.


The views of Islam concerning women bring us back to the question of the Hijab and covering.  During the colonial period, European colonizers regarded the head cover as a sign of female oppression.  But the Quran commands both men and women to dress modestly and to not display their bodies, and the Prophet asserted that modesty is a central quality in Islam. The Quran also commands women to not display their "ornaments" (zinah) (see Surah 24 (al-Noor), Ayah 30-31).


Accordingly, various forms of dress were developed in different parts of the Islamic world.

The question of the Hijab and other crucial issues having to do with education, legal rights, and so on have become the focus of attention of many.  A number of Muslim women, who want to modernize the rest of society after the model of the West, have taken these points into focus.


During the last two decades a new movement has begun among believing Muslim women themselves to gain the rights they believe the Quran and Hadith accord them. Nevertheless, women's issues are one of the major chal­lenges facing the Islamic world today.  It is good to see that parts of the Islamic world try to deal with this matter on the basis of Islamic teachings and its own customs and tradi­tions, despite the constant pressure from the West.


We pray Allah to help us deliver the message of Islam, offer it to others, grant us the opportunity to achieve both knowledge and piety, forgive us and our fathers and mothers, and grant us salvation in this world and in the hereafter.


Finally, let us read Surah Al-Nasr with a short Du’aa to close the Khutba.


[1] Wasa’il al-Shi’a, Book of Nikah, Section 99, Vol. 14 , Page 134.

[2] Ibn Athir, Usud al-Ghaba, Life of Muhammad, Page 24-25.

[3] Mutahhari, Hamasei Husaini, Vol. 1, Page 397.

[4]   Usool Al-Kaafi, Vol. 1, Page 30.

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