Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment
|Title||Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment|
|Author(s)||Mehfooz, Musferah, Razia Noor|
|Keywords||sharīᶜah (Islamic Law), Gender equality, equity, Women Rights|
|Chicago 16th||Mehfooz, Musferah, Razia Noor. "Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment." Al-ʿILM 3, no. 2 (2019).|
|APA 6th||Mehfooz, M., Noor, R. (2019). Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment. Al-ʿILM, 3(2).|
|MHRA||Mehfooz, Musferah, Razia Noor. 2019. 'Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment', Al-ʿILM, 3.|
|MLA||Mehfooz, Musferah, Razia Noor. "Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment." Al-ʿILM 3.2 (2019). Print.|
|Harvard||MEHFOOZ, M., NOOR, R. 2019. Practical Depiction of Gender Equality in Fiqh ul Seerah Perspective: An Analytical Assessment. Al-ʿILM, 3.|
“Gender equality” is certainly not another concept, this approach had been advocated in Islam, based on principles of equity and universal justice. Equality of rights are discussed in detail in sharīʿah (Islamic Law) and Holy Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) had implemented them during his sacred era. Because the Qur'an and the Seer’ah of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (ﷺ) is a permanent phenomenon of practice and guidance. According to the sharīʿah men and women without any discrimination are equal before Allah, and women had granted their rights in inheritance and property, social and marriage rights, not aforementioned only, women also have the right to perform civic and administrative duties. From last few decades the concept of gender equality has increased and becoming chicer and trending on the international level. This study emphasizes the equal status between men and women, described in sharīʿah (Islamic Law; based upon Qur’an and Hadith mainly). This concept has often been misunderstood by the majority of society as a direct result of ignorance on how Islam perceives this concept. Not surprisingly, throughout the history of Islam indicates the prominent role has played by Muslim women played every walk of life. Therefore, the present research has discussed the gender equality in fiqh ul seerah perspective and has provided the detailed interpretation in the light of derived Law from actions and decisions taken by the Holy Prophet (ﷺ), along this the study also sheds lights upon the implementation of these gender-based rights during most sacred prophetic era and during the period of righteous caliphate as well.
Sharīᶜah (Islamic law) provides a comprehensive legal structure that governs various aspects of a Muslim’s life at both the individual and collective levels. Ibn-e- qayyīm states, that Allah has clearly mentioned in his sharīᶜah (Islamic law) that the pr5inciple objective of his sharīᶜah is to establishment of justice among his mankind, therefore, whichever path leads to injustice and unfair dealing and behavior, or would oppose the justice among his people has no part and space in the religion. Hadith of Holy Prophet (ﷺ) holds a great place and value as it is considered to be the first step and foremost interpretation of the Holy Qur’ān. Doubtlessly, men and women are the backbones of human civilization and both play their due roles in society. In the present era, women are found engaged in every walk of life. Their potential was appreciated in the fields of education, research and medical for long but now they have also got prominence in fields like army, politics, games, culture, economy, engineering and even avionics. Woman of the modern era is now a good mixture of a conscious wife, affectionate and educated mother and an active worker by increasing her importance and status through achievements in all walks of life.
Therefore, in Islamic history, we have numerous examples of gender equality in the sacred texts of Islam, Qur’an, and Hadith (sayings and actions of the Prophet (ﷺ). According to the Qur’an, the creation of opposite genders is a matter of reflection and a divine scheme.The Quran says in this regard that:
In an other place ,The Quran says that Good deeds and actions of all humans regardless of their gender will be rewarded:
The Qur’an describes women and men as a spouse are as dress or attire for each other because of their intimacy:
The Qur’an has given instructions to both (husband and wife) to remain kind and modest. The Quran says in this regard that:
قُلْ لِّلْمُؤْمِنِيْنَ يَغُضُّوْا مِنْ اَبْصَارِهِمْ وَيَحْفَظُوْا فُرُوْجَهُمْ ۭ ذٰلِكَ اَزْكٰى لَهُمْ ۭ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ خَبِيْرٌۢ بِمَا يَصْنَعُوْنَ. وَقُلْ لِّلْمُؤْمِنٰتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ اَبْصَارِهِنَّ وَيَحْفَظْنَ فُرُوْجَهُنَّ وَلَا يُبْدِيْنَ زِيْنَتَهُنَّ اِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا .
These are the divine teachings that promote the concept of equal partnership between men and women. The Qur’an has declared without any discrimination of gender (male or female) the deeds of righteousness would be judged and equally rewarded and not the least injustice will be exercised with them:
. Therefore, Men and women ant distinction enjoy the equality of rights in every domain of life. Quran says that:
Holy Qur’an has introduced a unique and dignified theory that removed all the ancient burdens of humiliation and degradation from womanhood, for instance in the above-mentioned verse clearly states that the righteous believers either they are men or women would be awarded equally regarding forgiveness without any decimation. According to the historical evidence before Islam women were treated like animals by Arab pagan, even they deprived of basic right to let alive because she would be buried alive. Now it is much surprising for them that now women are as respectful as themselves and also have similar rights which they had enjoyed and their women would now be treated equally in rewards and in divine guidance.
The Qur’an has mentioned the creation of male and the female in many verses like:
Prophet (ﷺ) had declared during his Last Sermon that man and women have certain rights on each other, and had advised to men to treat the women well and be kind to them because women are your counterparts and loyal helpers.
Social, Religious, Intellectual, Administrative and Economic activities during Prophetic Era
Umm Ateyya (R.A.), who belonged to Ansar, stated: “I accompanied the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) seven times, guarding the camp, making the food, treating the wounded and caring for the sick”. Umm Sulaim (R.A.), the spouse of Abi Talha (R.A.), has narrated that she was carrying a dagger along with her during the battle of Hunain. At the point “when the Prophet (ﷺ) saw a dagger with me then asked about its purpose, then I replied to Prophet (ﷺ) that, I am carrying it for my safety purpose that I can guard myself against our enemies. The Prophet (ﷺ) did not preclude this”.
avail the right to vote , they also had engaged in various important and administrative positions, for instance the second of Caliph of Islam Umar (R.A.) had appointed the in-charge of a bazaar to Shifa bint Abdullah (R.A.) for accountability and proper administration of markets. Shifa, (R.A.) was a sagacious and intellectually gifted woman, Umar (R.A.)always had preferred her opinion to that of others due to her wise and practical approach. Samrah Bint Nashik Asadiyyia (R.A.) lived during the days of the Messenger (ﷺ)and was very aged. Whenever she had visited the Bazar, she advised the people to do good and refrain from every kind of evil. She also had a whip in her hand for those who would be found doing some anti-social or destructive activity.
Women’s Status Regarding Financial Responsibilities
Islam has given the full financial status to women. She has the right, similarly that a man has availed, women can possess all types of wealth whether it is in the form of gold, silver, diamonds, assets, land or cash. Sharīᶜah has given the right to women that they can spend her wealth anywhere (charity, to help the needy and poor, to build mosques, madrasas or hospitals, to gift her parent's relatives, etc.) according to her own will. So she can buy, sell, trade, barter, provide grants and loans, etc, and for this purpose, she is not bound to require the consent of any male either he is her father, husband, or brother. We have an important example in this regard and about foregoing discussion that Umm al-Muminīn, the wife of the prophet (ﷺ), Maīmunah bint Al-Hārith (R.A.) freed a girl born as her slave without asking for the Prophet's (ﷺ) permission. When she referenced this to him he stated: 'In the event that you had offered her to your maternal uncle as a blessing, your reward (with Allah) would have been more noteworthy.'
This is further emphasized in Qur’an:
وَلَا تَتَمَنَّوْا مَا فَضَّلَ اللّٰهُ بِهٖ بَعْضَكُمْ عَلٰي بَعْضٍ ۭ لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيْبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَـسَبُوْا ۭ وَلِلنِّسَاۗءِ نَصِيْبٌ مِّمَّا اكْتَـسَبْ.
“For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned”
Women’s Participation in Political and Administrative Affairs
But in Muslims history, we have found quite opposite situation from above, particularly only by keeping continue the aforementioned debate we have found the Suffrage right to women from very early in the Islamic era, and not surprisingly its practice had started since the
beginning of Islam. For example:
According to the sīrah, of Holy Prophet’s (ﷺ) about consulting Umm-e-Salma (R.A.) during the Treaty of Hudaibiya denotes the principle of holding consultation with women of sound judgment. The rightly guided Caliphs (R.A.) continued after this suggestion given by the Holy Prophet (ﷺ).
regarding amount of Mehr, according to Umar (R.A.) the amount of Mehar should be reduced because its high amount caused trouble to get married to those who are low in income then others but a women had strongly opposed this decision, and Umar (R.A.) has no answer to argue to that woman because her argument was also according to the sacred law and Umar (R.A.) had said that a woman had argued with me and she had better understanding and perception comparatively that I had perceived. And in another tradition, it is mentioned that Umar (R.A.) acknowledged that a woman said the right thing and the man committed a mistake.
The marriage bond is an institution that is a complicated one. As per Islamic Law, women can't be compelled to wed anybody without their approval. It was reported by Ibn Abbas (R.A.) that a girl visited the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and she had complained about her father that he had intention without her consent to marry her forcefully. The Prophet (ﷺ) gave decision in her favor. In another interpretation, the young lady stated: "Really I acknowledge this marriage however I wanted to tell women that guardians have no right (to compel a husband on them)" In another interpretation, the young lady stated: "Really I acknowledge this marriage however I needed to tell ladies that guardians have no right (to compel a spouse on them)"
Women’s Rights Regarding Marital Affairs and Conjugal Relationship
Moreover, according to Islamic teachings man is as responsible as woman to sustain the marital bond, for instance when Hadrat ʿAlī (R.A.) revealed his intention to marry Hazrat Fātima (R.A.) the Holy Prophet said “I marry her with you on the condition that you would behave with her in kindness”, Therefore, good conduct with wives is regarded as the foundation of marital relationship for which men are advised to treat with their wives with kindness.
There are many instances found in the very initial period of Islam when women exercised their divorce right for different reasons and Holy Prophet (ﷺ) himself approved and allowed it effective without care the consent of the husband, the authentic reasons which can pave the right to exercise khulaʿ for Muslim women are described as follow:
In the light of sharīʿah (Islamic Law) marriage would not be
considered valid without approval and the woman’s consent as well. No doubt, it is strictly forbidden and has considered injustice with the women in the light of sharīᶜah, and that marriage will be considered substantial in the light of sharīᶜah which passes endorsement, acknowledgment, and assent of the women. If marriage of a Muslim woman is arranged by against her will then she has given by absolute right to revoke it by exercising her divorce right as Holy Prophet (ﷺ) canceled these marriage contracts himself: For instance Abdullāh ibn Abbās has Narrated that girl has visited the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and complained about her father who had married her forcefully, without considering her will, then Holy Prophet (ﷺ) has given a permission to her to do what she wants. Another example in this reference is narrated by “Mujammaʿ bin Yazīd Al-Ansārī that a man who was called Khidam has arranged a marriage for his daughter against her daughter’s will, and his daughter went to the Prophet (ﷺ) and complained about this marriage then Holy Prophet (ﷺ) has nullified the marriage arranged by her father”. Another quite similar example is also narrated byʿAishāh 
If the husband of Muslim woman is repulsive (by any reason) to her to that extent that she finds it difficult to bear and remain with him then exercising khulaʿ is lawful in Islam instead of unpleasant continuity of conjugal relationship, the sacred text of such dissolution is found in fragments which are arranged as follow when wife of Thābit bin Qayīs (R.A.), who was among the companions, said to the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) : “O Prophet of God nothing can bring me and him together. When I raised my veil, he was coming from the front with some men. I saw that he was out of them of the shortest and ugliest. I swear by God that I do not hate him because of any defect in him, religious or moral, but I hate his ugliness. I swear by God that if it was not of fear of God I would have spit at his face when he came to me. O Prophet of God, You see how beautiful I am, and Thābit is an ugly person, I don’t blame his religion or his morals but I feel heresy in Islam. On that Prophet (ﷺ) said to that woman would you return that garden given by your husband (as a Mehar)? the became agree to return that garden." Then Holy Prophet (ﷺ) separated them in returning the garden to Thābit.” 
Impotency is another solid ground for obtaining khulaʿ, a reason proved by a tradition when Abū Rukānah (R.A.) has divorced his wife and married another woman belonged to Muzayīnah tribe. She visited Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and indirectly mentioned about Abu Rukānah who was impotent with these words: He is of no utilization to me aside from that he is as helpful to me as a hair, and she took a hair from her head. So independent me from him. The Prophet wound up enraged. He approached Rukānah (R.A.) and his siblings. He at that point said to the individuals who were sitting close to him. Do you see so-thus who looks like Abdu Yazīd in regard to so-thus; thus who takes after him in regard to so-thus? They answered: Yes. The Prophet said to Abdu Yazīd: Divorce her. It is instructive to mention here that Abū Rukānah was not impotent but prophetic (ﷺ) tradition provided us a strong reason regarding impotency that it can be a reasonable cause for demand about Khulaʿ.
In the light of Sharīᶜah (Islamic law), it has derived that man is given such status not because he is a man but for many responsibilities which are assigned him to perform and which are not laid upon women. Such phenomena cannot be comprehended until we understand an important law of nature which is described in the Holy Qur’an. So the division of ranks is made not on the base of gender or design of creation, but on the quantity and intensity of responsibilities performed by individuals and groups, and this is the Qur’ānic law of nature: ‘More the Responsibility More the Status’.
- Ibn-e- qayyīm, Zād al Maʿād fī Hady Khayīr al-ʿIbād,ed.ʿImād Zakī al-Bārūdī and Khayrī Saʿd (Cairo: al-Maktabah al-Tawfiqīyyah, n.d.), 5:370
- Al-Zaariyaat, 51:49; Yaseen,36:36
- Al-Nahal, 16:97
- Al-Baqara, 2:187
- Al-Noor, 24:30–31
- Al-Nisa, 4:124
- Aal-e-Imran, 3:195
- Al-Qiyama, 75:39
- Bani-Israeeel, 17:70
- Prophet Muhammad’s Last Sermon, 2004
- Al-Baqara, 2:228
- Al-Nisa, 4:34
- Ibn Saad, al-Tabqat al Kubra, vol, 3: 33
- Al- Bukhari, Muhammad bin Ismael,Al-Jāmiʿ Al-Sahīh, Fighting for the Cause of Allah (Jihaad),Chapter: The bringing back of the wounded and the killed by the women, Hadith No: 2883
- ʿ Muslim Bin Hajaj, Al-Jāmiʿ Al-Sahīh The Book of Jihad and Expeditions, Chapter: Women participating in military expeditions with the men,, Hadith No: 1812
- Ibid, Hadith No: 1804
- Ibn Hazm, al-Mahalla, 9:429
- Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, 4:335.
- Tabari, Tarikh al-Umam wal-Muluk, 2:601.
- Ibid, 4:260; Ibn Abd al-Barr, al-Istiab in the margin of al-Isaba, 4:335.
- ʿImām Bukhari, Al-Jāmiʿ Al-Sahīh, Book of Gifts, Chapter: A woman giving gifts to someone other than husband " Hadith No: 2592 Jāmiʿ al-bayān fī taʾwīl al-Qurʾān also known as Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī , vol. 15, p.78
- Al-Nisa, 4: 32
- Jāmiʿ al-bayān fī taʾwīl al-Qurʾān also known as Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī , vol. 15, p.78
- Al-Baqara, 2:228
- Ibn Hajar Asqalani, Fath al-Bari, ( Beirut: Dār al-al kutub al-ʿilmmiyya ,1999)6:275.
- Abd ar-Razzaq, al-Muƒannaf, ( Beirut: Dār al-Fikr,ND) 6:180 *10420.
- Ash-Shawkani, Nail al-Awtar,( Egypt:Maktabah al-Safāʾ,2006) 6:170.
- Ibn Hanbal, Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 2469
- Ibn Maja, The Chapters on Marriage, Hadith No. 1873
- Muhammad Nāsir-ud-Dīn Albāni, Silsala Al-Ahād īs Al-Sahīha, (Riyādh: Maktaba Al-Muʿārif,Lil-Nashar Wal-Tūzīʿ, 1995), No. 166
- Al-Nisāʾ, 4:19
- Abū Dawʾūd, Sunan ʿAbī Dawʾūd,, Book of Marriage, Chapter: Regarding a Virgin Who was Married off by Her Father without Her Consent, Hadith No., 2098
- ʿ Ibn Mājah, Sunan ʿ Ibn Mājah , Book of Marriage, Hadith No. 1873
- ʿImām Nasāʾī, Sunan Al- Nasāʾī, Book of Marriage, Chapter: Father Marrying off a Virgin When She is Unwilling, Hadith No. 5390
- ʿImām Bukhari, Al-Jāmiʿ Al-Sahīh, The Book of Divorce, Chapter: Al-Khulaʿ’ And How a Divorce is Given According to it, Hadith No. 4971
- Abū Dawʾūd, Sunan ʿAbī Dawʾūd,, Book of Divore, Chapter: Regarding Khul, Hadith No. 2230 [
- ʿImām Bukhari, Al-Jāmiʿ Al-Sahīh, Book on Supporting the Family, Chapter: It is Obligatory to Spend for one's Wife and Household, Hadith No. 5040
- Ibn Hajr , Fathul Bari Sharah Sahih Al-Bukhari. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr al-Muʿāsir, 1379Hj. Vol.9, p. 621
- Abū Dawʾūd, Sunan ʿAbī Dawʾūd,, Book on Divorce, Chapter: The Abrogation of Taking Back a Wife After the Third Divorce, Hadith No.2198
- Al-Ahzāb 33:72