(English)
Women Role In Muslim Society

Introduction

Muslims is a word called people who embrace Islam and 10 percent of Thailands 60 million population are Muslims and in the Thai long history not only everybody are free to practice in the religion they believe but Section 5 of the Constitution affirms that the Thai people, irrespective of their origins, sexes or religions, shall enjoy equal protection under the Constitution.

However, lack of proper knowledge and understanding on Islamic doctrine, Islamic culture and ways of life were found among Non-Muslim Thai particularly in the three southern province, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat whose 90 percent are Muslim due to up until recently the Quran was written in Arabic and the Muslims there are a Malay ethnic group who use Yawi, a local Malay dialect, in their daily life. While all Thai can study the Quran in Thai language now and we realized the importance of the Thai multi-disciplinary society but a fully understanding Muslim women might still be difficulty to obtained and mislead to an impression of someone who wears viel, an interpretation of an un-equal status to men as raised by international feminists. In some Muslim society where education is marginally provided, the women themselves might not fully realized her genuine status, rights and responsibilities in regards to Islam.

To understand womens role in different Muslim Society might vary in accords to tribes, races, nationality or administration doctrine but there is a common rule of law among Muslims worldwide-Islamic doctrine- the teaching of Quran and words of those religious scholars. Therefore one must primarily understand the basic concept in Quran and Haddith, in regards to women and Islam, and the understanding of Islam and Muslim society will come afterwards where never on earth is that society.


The Quran and women

The status of women in Islam is something unique and clear in her society as a daughter, wife, mother, member of the society or even individual. We can called that status the role or rights as it clearly prescribes or describes her role in all aspects from birth to death as follow:
  • Rights to be a part of the family by marriage, rights to be protected from domestic violence, right to divorce and punishment for sexual or marriage offense
  • Rights to work, earn a living and posses of asset and property.
  • Rights to pursuit education and knowledge.
  • Rights to express her opinions.
  • Legal rights such as being a witness, to contract and to inheritance.

Family rights: Marriage

When a woman and man decided to get married the Quran recognizes her as a full and equal partner of man in a family. Her role is not less vital than his and by this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are as many qualities and as much humanities as there are in her partner. To this equal partnership in the reproduction of human kind God says:

O mankind! Verily We have created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other
[Quran, 49: 13]


Islamic woman is entitled to demand of her prospective husband a suitable dowry that will be her own. This dowry is called marh, mehr or meher and should be a gift of valuable things or settled money upon the bride, real property or investment and it is not regarded as her value. The mahr may also be divided into portions, one to be given the bride at marriage, the other to be given the wife if she is widowed or divorced. The mahr can be a womans protection against arbitrary divorce.

Furthermore in some Muslim society an agreement is made on where shall the couple live or whether she is entitled to ask for a divorce but in practical, most Islamic marriages agreement are verbal without a written contract but all parties involved keep their promises.

In remaining his partner, his partner, a wife is entitled to complete provision and total maintenance by her husband. She does not have to work or share with her husband the family expenses. She is free to retain, after marriage, whenever she possessed before it, and the husband has no right whatsoever to any of her belongings.

Divorce

The rules for Talaq (divorce) is primarily initiate by men providing several procedures to be obtained before the divorce is effective. However a wife also has the right to Hula or Khulah (initiate a divorce) with substantial compensation but is only recommended if her problem is serious- for example, a husband who is beating her regularly or if her husband is treating her unjustly. In practice divorce can be quite involved; they may be separate state proceedings to follow as well. Notwithstanding who initiates the divorced the wife keeps her mahr, both the original gift and any supplementary property specified in the marriage agreement. She is also given child support until the age of weaning but in traditional Islamic law custody goes to the father.

Domestic violence

According to most interpretations of Sharia or Islamic law, authorization for the husband to physically beat disobedient wives is provided only under certain conditions. First, admonishment is verbal and secondly a period of refraining from ultimate relations is observed. Finally, if the husband finds the situation very serious, he may hit her:

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear nushuz, admonish them, and (then) leave them alone in the sleeping-places and (last) idribuhunna (usually translated as beat) ; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.
[Quran 4: 34]


There is a word nushuz in which the Quran prescribes three steps; first, the husband is to admonish the wife and reason with her as to why her actions are damaging the family, secondly, when discussion between the two fails, they are requested to start avoiding each other and remain separate and lastly, the Quran prescribes idribuhunna as the final step.

There are controversial on the word idribuhunna (from the root daraba) whether its meaning in the Quran is beat, hit, scourge or strike. If its meaning is really hit or beat how hard is it and some contemporary Muslims consider hit to be a misinterpretation. Abul Ala Maududi wrote in Tafheen al Quran that it should not be hit on the face and not severely hit until there is a scar or bruise and all religious scholars agreed that not to hit is better than hit and hitting should be the last measure between husbands and wives.

Dr.Ahmad shafaat says the wife has no religious obligation to take the beating. She can ark for and get divorce any time. If the husband beats a wife without respecting the limits set down by the Quran and Haddith, then she can take him to court and if ruled in favor has the right to apply the law of retaliation and beat the husband as he beat her.

Punishment for sexual or marriage offense

Though women are well protected in Islam but womens sexual immorality are considered severely offense among Muslims since it cause the clan or family to lose honor. Honor killings are often identified with Islam, although scholars dispute their Quranic basis that such killings take place within a few Muslim communities, not universal within. However, Islamic law also maintains that before any punishment can take place, a trial must be held and there must either be proof of misbehavior in the form of pregnancy of the accused, or the accuser must supply four witnesses.

Right to work

Islam does not prohibit women from working, though, it does emphasize the primary duty, applied to both parents, is of caring for the family and the household.

Many Muslims believe that a woman should work only if she can work without defying Islamic teachings. Often, this means that she must not do work that offends her modesty and chastity. In many interpretations it also means she must not work or interact with men who are not her relatives.

Many versions of Islamic law allow a husband to prevent his wife from working; some versions give the same right to her father as well as husband may forbid his wife from leaving the house for many reason other than studying Islam. There is no obligation on a woman to share her money with her spouse, though the reverse is true.

Rights to pursuit for education

The Phophet encouraged women, as well as men, to become educated as they can, and therefore there is nothing wrong with women becoming scholars, having an official position in a masjids is disputed by many. A fundamental role of an imam in a masjid is to lead the salah. Women may not lead the salah of men unless every man in the prayer is unable to lead it. Any woman may be an imam in salah for a group of women, but for a mixed group (men and women), only a man and lead.

Right to expression

Whenever a family dispute occurs women and men are equal to express their opinions and the husband has no right to disregard his wife. If the argument leads to avoiding each other as husband and wife, before resume their relationship, good deed; such as freeing a slave, fasting or giving alms to the poor, must be practiced in order to caution the couple for any for nushuz in the future.

It is reported in the Quran and history that women not only expressed her opinion freely but also argued and participated in serious discussions with the Prophet himself as well as with other Muslim leaders. Besides there were occasions when Muslim women expressed their views on legislative matters of public interest, and stood in opposition to the Caliphs, who then accepted the sound arguments of these women. A specific example took place during the Califate of Umar Ibn Al-Khattab.

Recognition of women in Muslim society might came from the early Muslims, especially in times of emergencies, when women participated in public life as they used to accompany the Muslim armies engaged in battles to nurse the wounded, prepared supplies, serve the warriors, and so on.

Until recently most Muslim nations (and a number of other nations) were non-democratic but today many Muslim nations allow their citizens to have some level of voting and control over their local government regardless only a few nations give women the rights to vote on condition of their education pursuit. It should also be noted that according to some scholars voting is permissible for women in Islam, as it has never been openly banned, neither in Quranor by Sunnah.

Legal rights: to contract, be a witness and inheritance

Islam grants women equal rights to contract, to enterprise, to earn and possess independently similar to that of men long before all states legalized these rights. It is mentioned in the Quran:

And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. Sura 2:228(9)


In Islamic law, in general, it is preferred that the testimony be given by a male. If, however, for any reason, a male is not available and the contract must be signed urgently, the testimony of two female witnesses is preferred for every male absent:

Let his guardian dictate faithfully, and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, let then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errors, the other can remind her Sura 2:282


Women are entitled the right of inheritance:

From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large, a determinate share. Sura 4:7


But a daughters share id half the share of a son, otherwise the share of a female heir is less than a male one:

Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Childrens (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their shares is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children; and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (the distribution in all cases(s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, All-wise. Sura 4:11


Proponents of Sharia argue that this is fair, given that a Muslim male is obligated to spend part of this inheritance on his wife, children and house, while the female may keep all of it for herself. Financial support for home and family is said to be solely the responsibility of the husband.

In most Muslim nations, the law of the state concerning inheritance is in accordance with this law.


Discriminate or privilege

Women in Muslim societies have varying roles, rights and obligations depending on the particular society they live in. In many Muslim countries women have fewer rights than men with regard to marriage, divorce, civil rights, legal status, dress code, professional lives and education and while non-Muslims feel that these obligations are restrictions Muslims believe that these restrictions are motivated by culture, not religion and are based on the divine understanding of the differences between the nature of men and women, and as such are immutable, perfect and just.

Regards to some people feel Muslim women clothing is a signal of sex discrimination, it should be noted that the Quran requires believers, both male and female, to dress modestly and clothing of Muslim woman is always associated with an old tradition known as the veil. It is Islamic that the woman should beautify herself with the veil of honor, dignity, chastity, purity and integrity. She should refrain from all deeds and gestures that might stir the passions of people other than her legitimate husband or cause evil suspicion of her morality. She is warned not to display her charms of expose her physical attractions before strangers. The veil which she must put on is one that can save her soul from weakness, her mind from indulgence, her eyes from lustful looks, and her personality from demoralization. Islam is most concerned with the integrity of woman, with the safeguarding of her morals and morale and with the protection of her character and

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and guard their private parts and not to display their adornment except that which ordinarily appears there of and to draw their head covers over their chests and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons. [24:31]


Traditionally, this sura has been interpreted to mean that women should cover all but their face and hands. Men are required only to cover themselves from knee to waist. Some Islamic societies have set stricter dress codes for women, requiring women to wear chadors or burqas that hide all but the eyes. Some Muslims criticize this as excessive, referring to Quranic verses saying that it is wrong to refrain from what is permitted by God [Quran 66:1]. This is usually interpreted as applying to asceticism: critics of strict dress codes are applying this to clothing as well.

Many contemporary Muslims believe that the commandment to modesty must be interpreted with regard to the surrounding society. What is considered modest, or daring, in one society may not be considered so in another. It is important, they say, for believers to wear clothing that communicate modesty and reserve in the situations in which they find themselves.

Other Muslims consider the Quranic commandment, and the dress codes that Islamic scholars have derived from it, apply no matter what the circumstances.

Nevertheless, woman enjoys certain privileges of which man is deprived. She is exempt from some religious duties, i.e., prayers and fasting, in her regular periods and at times of confinement. She is exempt from all financial liabilities. As a mother, she enjoys more recognition and higher honor in the sight of God [31:14-15, 46:15]. The prophet acknowledged this honor when he declared that Paradise is under the feet of the mothers. She is entitled to three-fourths of the sons love and kindness with one-fourth left for their father. As a wife she is entitled to demand of her prospective husband a suitable dowry that will be her own. She is entitled to complete provision and total maintenance by the husband. She does not have to work or share with her husband the family expenses. She is free to retain, after marriage, whenever she possessed before it, and the husband has no right whatsoever to any of her belongings. As a daughter of sister she is entitled to security and provision by the father and brother respectively. That is her privilege. If she wishes to work or be self-supporting and participate in handling the family responsibilities, she is quite free to do so, provided her integrity and honor as safeguarded.

Lastly, the standing of woman in prayers behind man does not indicate in any sense that she is inferior to him. Woman, as already mentioned, is exempt from attending congregational prayers which are obligatory on man. But if she does attend she stands in separate lines made up for women exclusively. This is a regulation of discipline in prayers, and not a classification of importance. In mens rows the head of state stands shoulder to shoulder to the pauper. Men of the highest ranks in society stand in prayer side by side with other men of the lowest ranks. The order of lines I prayers are not simple chanting or the sing-a-song type. The involve actions, motions, standing, bowing, prostration, etc. So if men mix with women in the same lines, it is possible that something disturbing or distracting may happen. The mind will become occupied by something alien to prayer and derailed from the clear path of mediation. The result will be a loss of the purpose of prayers, besides an offense of adultery committed by the eye, because the eye- by looking at forbidden things- can be guilty of adultery committed by the eye, because the eye- by looking at forbidden things- can be guilty of adultery as much as the heart itself. Moreover, no Muslim man or women is allowed during prayers to touch the body of another person of the opposite sex. If men and women stand side by side in prayer they cannot avoid touching each other. Furthermore, when a woman is praying in front of a man or beside him, it is very likely that any part of her dressed body may become uncovered after a certain motion of bowing at the uncovered part, with the result that she will be embarrassed and he will be exposed to distraction or possibly evil thoughts. So, to avoid any embarrassment and distraction to help concentrate on mediation and pure thoughts, to maintain harmony and order among worshippers, to fulfill the true purposes of prayers, Islam has ordained the organization of rows, whereby men stand in front lines, and women behind the children. Anyone with some knowledge of nature and purpose of Muslim prayer can readily understand the wisdom of organizing the line of worshippers in this manner.

In summary, Islam has taken all measures to safeguard women and put them into practice as integral articles of Faith. It never tolerates those who are inclined to prejudice against women or discrimination between man and women. Time an again, the Quran reproaches those who used to believe women to be inferior to man [16:57-59; 62:42:47-59; 43:15-19; 53:21-23].


The Muslim Women and Her community/Society

Quoted from Islamic-World-Net on Sisters Page, Articles on Women and Islam, when it comes to Islamic duties, the Muslim women is just like a man: she has a mission in life, and so she is required to be effective, active and social as her particular circumstances and capabilities allow, mixing with other women as much as she can and dealing with them in accordance with the worthy Islamic attitudes and behavior that distinguish her from other women.

The Muslim woman who has been truly guided by the Quran and Sunnah has a refined social personality of the highest degree, which qualifies her to undertake her duty of calling other women to Islam, opening their hearts and minds to the guidance of this great religion which elevated the status of women at a remarkably early stage in their history and furnished them with a vast range of the best of characteristics which are outlined in the Quran and Sunnah. Islam has made the acquisition of these characteristics a religious duty for which a person will be rewarded, and will be called to account if he or she fails to attain them. These following texts succeeded in making the personality of the woman who is sincere towards Allah (SWT) into a brilliant example of the decent, chaste, polite, God-fearing, refined, sociable woman.

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam stand out in every womens gathering she attends, as she demonstrates the true values of her religion and the practical application of those values by her attaining of those worthy attributes. The make-up of her distinct social conduct and dealing with people. From these rich, pure source, the Muslim woman draws her own customs, habits and ways of dealing with others and she cleanses her soul and forms her own Muslim, social personality from the same source.

In summary, the Muslim woman has these qualifications:

  • She has a good attitude towards others and treats them well.
  • She is truthful.
  • She avoids giving false statements.
  • She gives sincere advice.
  • She guides others to righteous deeds.
  • She does not cheat, deceive, or stab in the back.
  • She keeps her promises.
  • She is not a hypocrite.

She has a good attitude towards others and treats them well.

The Muslim woman is of good and noble character, friendly, humble, gentle of speech and tactful. She likes others and is liked by them. By doing so, she is following the example of the Prophet (PBUH) who, as his servant Anas (RAA) reported, was the best of people in his attitude towards others.

If good attitudes and manners among non-Muslims are the result of a good upbringing and solid education, then among Muslims such good attitudes come, above all, from the guidance of Islam, which makes good attitudes a basic characteristic of the Muslim, one which will raise his status in this world and will weigh heavily in his favor in the Hereafter.

She is Truthful.

The Muslim woman is truthful with all people, because she absorbed the teachings of Islam which encourages truthfulness and regards it as the chief virtues, whilst lying is forbidden and regarded as the source of all evils and bad deeds. The Muslim woman believes that truthfulness naturally leads to goodness, which will admit the one who practices it to Paradise, while falsehood leads to inquiry which will send the one who practices it to Hell

She avoids giving false statements.

The true Muslim woman whose personality has been molded by the teachings and guidance of Islam does not give false statements, because to do so is haram:

[And shun the word that is false.] [Quran 22:30]


Being false witness, besides being haram, dose not befit the Muslim woman. It damages her honor and creditability, and marks a person as twisted and worthless in the sight of others. So the Quran completely forbids this attitude for the chosen servants of Allan(SWT), men and women alike, just as it forbids other major sins:

[Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass it by with honorable (avoidance).] [Quran 25:72]


Nothing is more indicative of the enormity of this sin than the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned it as coming after the two most serious sins on the scale of major sins: associating partners with Allah (SWT), and disobedience to parents. Then he repeated it to the Muslims, warning them with the utmost fervor. He (PBUH) said:

Shall I not tell you of the most serious of the major sins? We said: Of course, O Messenger of Allah. He said: Associating anything with Allah (SWT), and disobeying parents. He was reclining but then he sat up and said: And bearing false witness, and he kept repeating this until we wished that he would stop [i.e., so that he would not exhaust himself with his fervor.]



She gives sincere advice

The true Muslim woman does not only strive to free herself of negative characteristics; she also seeks to offer sincere advice to every woman she comes into contact with who has deviated from the guidance of Allah (SWT) and how many woman there are who have wronged themselves and are in great need of someone to offer them sincere advice and guide them back towards the straight path which Allah (SWT) has commanded all of us to follow.

The fact that sincere advice is mentioned in conjunction with salah and zakah in the oat of allegiance given by the great Sahabi Jarir ibn Abdullah to the Prophet (PBUH) is an indication of its importance in the Islamic scheme of things and in deciding a persons fate in the Hereafter. It is therefore a basic characteristic of the true Muslim who is concerned about his destiny on the Day of Judgment.

She guides others to righteous deeds.

The Muslim woman whose soul has been purified by Islam and cleansed of the stains of selfishness and love of show guides others to righteous deeds when she knows of them, so that goodness will come to light and people will benefit from it. It is all the same to her whether the good deed is done by herself or by others, because she knows that the one who guides others to do righteous deeds will be rewarded like the one who does the actual deed, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

Whoever guides other to do good will have a reward like that of the person who does the good deed.


The Muslim woman is the least likely to keep goodness to herself, or to boast to others about doing good, which is the attitude of sale-woman who love to show off. It is enough for the Muslim woman who guides other to do good to know that she will be rewarded by Allan (SWT) in either case, and for the true Muslim woman, storing up reward with Allah (SWT) is more important than fame and a good reputation. In this way, goodness spreads throughout the community, and every person will have the opportunity to do whatever Allah (SWT) helps him or her to do.


She does not cheat, deceive, or stab in the back.


The sincere Muslim woman for who truthfulness has become a deeply-rooted characteristic does not cheat, deceive or stab in the back, because these worthless characteristics are beneath her. They contradict the values of truthfulness, and do not befit the Muslim woman. Truthfulness requires an attitude of sincerity, straightforwardness, loyalty and fairness, which leaves no room for cheating, lying, trickery, deceit or betrayal.

The Muslim woman who is filled with the guidance of Islam is truthful by nature, and has a complete aversion to cheating, deceiving and back-stabbing, which she sees as a sign of a persons being beyond the pale of Islam, as the Prophet (PBUH) stated in the hadith narrated by Muslim:

Whoever bears arms against us is not one of us, and whoever cheats us is not one of us.


Muslim society is based on purity of human feeling, sincerity towards every Muslim, and fulfillment of promises to every member of the society. If any cheats or traitors are found in that society, they are most certainly alien elements whose character is in direct contrast to the noble character of true Muslims.

Islam views cheating, deception and back-stabbing as heinous crimes which will be a souce of shame to the guilty party both in this world and the next. The Prophet (PBUH) announced that on the day of Resurrection, every traitor would be raised carrying the flag of his betrayal and a caller will cry out in the vast arena of judgment, pointing to him and drawing attention to him:

Every traitor will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said: This is the betrayer of so-and-so.


Their shame on the day of Judgment will increase when they see the Prophet (PBUH), who is the hope of intercession on that great and terrible day, standing in opposition to them, because they have committed the heinous crime of betrayal, which is a crime of such enormity that will deprive them of the mercy of Allah (SWT) and the intercession of the Prophet (PBUH):

Allah (SWT), may He be exalted, said: There are three whom I will oppose on the Day of Resurrection: a man who gave his word, and then betrayed; a man who sold a free man into slavery and kept the money; and a man who hired someone, benefited from his labor, then did not pay his wages.



She keeps her promises.

One of the noble attitudes of the true Muslim woman is that she keeps her promises. This attitude is the companion of truthfulness and indeed stems naturally from it.

Keeping promises is a praiseworthy attitude, one that indicates the high level of civility attained by the woman who exhibits it. It helps her to succeed in life, and earns her the love, respect and appreciation of others.

The effects of this attitudes is instilling moral and psychological virtues in girls and boys are not unknown; if they se their mothers always keeping their promises, this is the best example that they can be given.

For the Muslim woman, keeping promises is not just the matter of social niceties, something to boast about among her friends and peers; it is one of the basic Islam characteristics and one of the cleanest indicators of sound faith and true Islam. Many texts of the Quran and Sunnah emphasize the importance of this quality:

[O you believe! Fulfill all obligations.] [Quran 5:1]


[And fulfill every engagement, for (every) engagement will be required into (on the Day of Reckoning.).] [Quran 17:34]


She is not a hypocrite.

The true Muslim woman is frank and open in her words and opinions, and is the futhest removed from hypocrisy, flattery and false praise, because she knows from the teachings of Islam that hypocrisy is haram, and does not befit.

Conclusion

Islamic principles are to protect and safeguard human rights in the society in accords to their sexes and status. Practicing Islam is basically respecting other people and one owns rights which makes a society peacefull.

Moreover, Islam designates human obligations to the others and public-at-large. Being a Muslims is not only to realize ones own rights but also obligations to the society and therefore if everybody in the society believe in Islam, the society will become harmonious and peacefull.

In regards to their nature men and women might have different or same role in Muslim society but the Quran does not state which sex is superior to the other. Every society, from the smallest scale of a family to the biggest of a globe, practicing Islam makes all inhabitants living in harmony and peace.

To the fact that lack of learning leads to inadequacy of understanding of people who are different from ourselves and misunderstanding leads to more severely harm. Learning about Islam principles will surely brings good understanding and perception of Muslim societies and safeguard against antagonism between people of different believes.


Similarly, Muslims who realize their roles and obligations to the society are truly believers in Islam and a truly believer in God is a person who bring peace and harmony to his or her society.
 


Print Version