If you believe some of the popular misinformation about Islam, you might think that Muslim women are oppressed. They’re not able to go outside without a male relative, men make all their decisions for them, they have to hide behind veils or be punished, their husbands are allowed to beat them and take other wives… it goes on and on. How much of it is true?
Not much. Most people don’t know all that much about how Islam actually views women.
The Qu’ran and the Hadith (the words of Muhammad) both depict women positively. In fact, the Qu’ran consistently portrays women as being friends and partners with men. Consider the following:
Surely for men who surrender to God, and women who surrender
and men who believe and women who believe;
and men who obey and women who obey;
and men who speak the truth and women who speak the truth;
and men who persevere (in righteousness)
and women who persevere;
and men who are humble and women who are humble;
and men who give alms and women who give alms;
and men who fast and women who fast;
and men who guard their modesty and women who guard (their modesty);
and men who remember Allah much and women who remember – Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward. (Qur'an 33:35)
You would be hard pressed to find a firmer statement of equality in the scriptures of any other religion. Islam, unlike many other religions, has never blamed women for the fall of mankind, called them unclean when they’re menstruating, or for that matter, suggested that they have to submit to anyone!
The Prophet Muhammad strictly forbade any form of violence against women, and warned against abuse of power, saying, “Let no Muslim man entertain any bad feeling against a Muslim woman. If he should dislike one quality in her, he will find another that is pleasing.”
Muhammad also said, “The best of believers are those who are best to their wives and families.”
In the context of the time, Muhammad’s teachings were revolutionary. In fact, he was a social reformer who never for one moment considered women to be unequal or second-class.
Today, the position of Muslim women is not harmed by the practice of Islam. Any oppression of Muslim women is due to misguided cultural deviations. The Islamic tradition has always been, and continues to be, one of respect, honor, and equality for women.
This is a subject that has to be addressed. It seems that it’s one of the areas in which Islam’s treatment of women is most misunderstood. In Islamic law, a man can take more than one wife. In the Christian Bible, multiple marriages were the norm, and in some Christian sects, it still is.
However, most Christians do not practice polygamy, and neither do most Muslims. In Islamic law, a woman actually has the advantage over, for example, women in Mormon sects that practice polygamy – a Muslim wife whose husband takes another wife has the right to divorce him.
So what’s the reality? For most men of any religion, one wife is plenty. Enough said!