Women Have a Very High Status in Islam

9151-beautiful-submissive-woman-prostrate-on-floor-chris-maherWe hear it often.

Women have a very high status in Islam

Western women are oppressed. We have to look good, work, take part in society. But in Islam, women are elevated, respected.

This claim always makes me wonder. “Women have a very high status in Islam.” High in relation to whom? Hermaphrodites?

How is this high status women hold in islam expressed?

* “Were I to command anyone to prostrate to someone I would have commanded the woman to prostrate to her husband.” – in Islam the role of the wife is one of submission to her husband who holds the authority over his family, and this hadith accentuates that. So women are of such high status, they should really be prostrating before their husbands, if it weren’t for the fact that we should only throw ourselves on the ground before god.

And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable. But the men have a degree over them [in responsibility and authority]. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. Men are superior. Women are inferior.

Men are the protectors and heads of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend to support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient to their husbands, and guard in the husband’s absence what Allaah orders them to guard. As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them, refuse to share their beds, and  beat them, but if they return to obedience, seek not against them. Surely, Allaah is Ever Most High, Most Great. Women in islam hence are so high in status they must obey their husbands in everything, be governed by their husbands and be beaten by their husbands if they are disobedient.

Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” So women in islam are told they are deficient in intelligence and religion and less than any man. Women in islam are told they are more likely to end up in Hell – because they are inferior. That’s how high in status they are.

“Beware of this world and beware of women, for the first fitnah among the Children of Israel had to do with women. I have not left behind me any fitnah more harmful to men than women.” Women are awrah – shameful. Women are fitnah. That’s how high their status is.

 Women have a very high status in Islam – beneath everybody else.


75 thoughts on “Women Have a Very High Status in Islam

  1. @another411, you don’t care but I would like to share that I have a very happy family life and a great career as a university faculty. I have a happy monogamous marriage with a great human being as my husband who is strongly against the patriarchal system we grew up in. He isn’t someone who do it not only through words but also through actions. I am not muslim but through my occasional volunteer work in US and general life experiences in India, I know the ground realities, muslim family dynamics and problems of Muslim women across wide variety of cultural and national origins. Basically the problems that are not because of cultural traditions but directly because Muslim faith.

  2. International law – collision norms on the national level and bi- or multilateral treaties between states – regulate how foreign concluded marriages are recognized in other countries. In effect this means that legally binding marriages to multiple partners from Islamic countries can be legal in many Western countries. An exception to recognition is when most fundamental norms of the host or receiving country are violated. I have never heard a court found polygamy per se to violate public order (ordre public). All over Europe, immigrants from Arab countries have multiple wives. I’d be very surprised if the situation were different in North America. To a certain extent, states are pragmatic in that the universal acceptance of legally concluded marriages based on reciprocity is an interest in itself.

    As for different countries – you have to distinguish between religious doctrine and states implementing state law that loosely draws from “Shariah” law. In the latter, you have differences, but laws on polygamy typically are not sophisticated legalistic texts. They simply state in their marriage code “A Muslim husband is entitled to marry up to 4 wives”, and that is it. What is more intricate, and not per se dependent on states is religious teaching. They are diverse, but not by country but by school (Madhab). There is a limited number of schools that are considered accepted (4 for Sunni Islam, 2 for the Shia). The number can change over time, but is relatively constant (so no new streams are constantly popping up). In these schools, established ways of argument and established opinions create a framework that is relatively stable over time; innovation is modest. Much like the teachings of the Vatican – they do innovate, but slowly, and without disrupting previous doctrine, but by ways of enlarging and complementing it. So what “Islam” says on polygamy is not as diffuse as you seem to think, because there is an Ulema (respected scholars) grouping in certain schools of thought with an established body of opinions and interpretations. Those are “mainstream” teachings, but the only universally accepted ones as Islamic religious scholarship, one should add. If you read them you’ll come as close to “what Islam says on xyz” as when you read binding opinions of the Vatican for Catholic believers.

  3. @ Laila, do not feel offended. What people who do not know us in person, only from short glimpses via comments we post, “get” from us is beyond our control, and often beyond theirs, too. It could be their imagination, projection, mood – there is nothing tangible we have over this internet communication. In the positive and in the negative. Of course positive feelings for people we don’t know, positive projections about someone we feel close to we can easily accept as a little bonus in our more or less dull day. 😉

  4. Fiona, thanks for turning off the nested comments setting. Thanks Dale for your suggestion. It is much easier an simple. In previous setting it was difficult to follow discussions within one thread and was easy to miss comments.

  5. Another411, I went back and read my posts to see what prompted you to say that I am “angry, hateful, bitter and resentful woman”
    If stating the truth about women’s rights in Islam makes me angry, hateful and resentful woman then I will gladly accept these labels you gave me. This makes me feel that what is stated and others supported didn’t go well with you. Truth is that a married Muslim woman especially a mother is not free to leave. Main reason for this is that her religion doesn’t allow that and gives more rights to her husband. Now I am talking about Muslim women in general not you. So no I am not trying to prove that you are an oppressed Muslim woman. If you are free to leave whenever you want then I am happy you have that freedom but that’s not the case for majority of Muslim women.

  6. Could you not just accept that there are women who want to live another lifestyle? I have grewn as a result of polygamy. It does not always make me happy but maybe a better person. And I am more self asteemed now because I have learned that I can manage more on my own. Yes it is sometimes painful and I struggle too with emotions and am sometimes very angry. But I think now this is best for me. Maybe sometime in future Allah will decide different. As another411 say: my husband too is nevous I will get something better as reward for dealing with this test. Maybe so. I will be satisfied with what I am given, also with polygamy.

  7. Alone @2:39:

    “Could you not just accept that there are women who want to live another lifestyle?”
    Yes, of course. This is an arrangement that is growing, at least in the United States.

    Why do you call yourself “Alone” ?

  8. I have no problem if all the people involved really want to live polygamy.

    But mostly that doesnt seem to be the case.

    I am against anyone being coerced into polygamy through financial, emotional, religious, cultural or familial restraints.

  9. And I’m mostly against muslim women being told they are weak in their iman if they can’t accept polygamy.

    It’s a fabrication from men. Praise women for accepting it, tell them they will get rewarded for their suffering, tell them Allah will give them something better, its not their husband’s choice its qadr Allah chose it…….

    Rhetoric to keep women trapped in polygamy by playing on their need for praise, playing on their need for affection from their husbands and their desire to be good muslims.

    When women struggle many husbands go cold towards them. If they bury their hurt and try to accept it their husbands shower them with love. Emotional blackmail of the worst kind.

  10. Alone,
    “Could you not just accept that there are women who want to live another lifestyle?”
    I am assuming it was addressed to me. I do accept that there are men and women who want to live a different lifestyle. Nobody here has a problem with polygamy in general when its equal and practiced with mutual consent. Truth is that a Muslim woman can never choose to practice polygamy (have another husband) irrespective of whether she wants it or not. So we specifically don’t have any issue with your or another411’s life choices, our issue is with the inherent injustice and gender based descrimination through Muslim polygyny. For example if there is a faith/religion which says a wife has to obey her husband. The husband used his divine right to force his wife to eat only one meal per day. She loves her husband so she accepts this arrangement because its better than separating from the man she loves. Its hard and painful at times but it helps her lose weight, be more tolerant n general and be content with less food and it becomes her routine to eat only once every day. She appreciated her husband forcing this on her because she focussed on the good that came out of it. Does that mean that she can tell everyone that its ok for husbands to force their wives to diet irrespective of whether the wife wants it or not. Majority of the women out there want to eat 3 meals a day and some will say that if their husband can force them to diet he should also be open to his wife forcing him to diet 🙂

    Something related to Dale’s comment and my above analogy. Yes, some women also want others (trainers, dietitians) to tell them how much and how often they should eat or someone to push them to do strenuous exercise routines. That is a different story and nobody should have problems with that.

    Alone, you also said “I have grewn as a result of polygamy.”
    Many people also grow as a result of losing a loved one, living in poverty and many other hardships/life altering events but that doesn’t mean that those are good and everyone should accept/welcome being poor or losing a loved one.

  11. Dale, i agree that many alternative arrangements are on the rise. There are career women who don’t want a full time husband but do want a steady partner. There are career women who want men with less paying and demanding jobs than them so they are more willing to help with housework and childcare. All alternative arrangements are ok unless a spouse is using emotional blackmailing, control on finances/kids or other tactics to force a certain type of lifestyle on the other parties.

    I am aware of a type of Muslim women not wanting a full-time husband. Its mainly because these women don’t want to be traditional obedient Muslim wives and know very well that they don’t have what it takes to meet the Muslim man’s ego and demands. They keep delaying marriage and go away from families to study/work, have affairs but cannot marry the non-Muslim unless ready to break ties with their Muslim families or risk their life. Polygyny is a win-win situation for the Muslim man and the modern Muslim career woman and who cares for the first wife who is often someone from a developed country or still living back there serving her in-laws. She should just be thankful for not getting a divorce, allowed to be in her kids life and being provided with food, clothes, shelter. Of course their are many other scenarios but this is the typical that i know of.

  12. Alone, wanted to add another comment related to your “I have grewn as a result of polygamy.”
    I am sure men will experience same when a competition is present. It will be painful but they will definitely grow a lot as a result of polygamy. Why deny the men such an opportunity 🙂

  13. Chris, Thank you for your kind message. Yes, anonymous internet communication has many limitations but another reason I see here is total inability to understand that someone not personally/directly affected by a practice can also be equally passionate about its effects on fellow women/human beings.

  14. Taken out of context these text can sound bad I admit. But you fail to mention all texts elevating the status of women.
    And I am curious Fiona, how does it mean I do not respect my wife simply because I also love and respect my other wife?

  15. I had friends at 411. I needed there to vent with people who can relate. Now I am alone. Simple as that.

  16. They sound bad because they are bad.

    The only texts that remotely elevate women are those pertaining to mothers (what about women who don’t bear children) or those who are obedient.

    “Putting it into context” is a modern day attempt to make the grotesque seem more acceptable.

    Classic example is menstruation. Menstruating women aren’t allowed to pray because they are considered impure. Modern day apologists “putting it into context” say it’s to give women a break while they are physically burdened.

    Respect in a marriage should include what is allowed for a husband is also allowed for a wife. Doesn’t that fulfill the requirement of wanting for your brother or sister what you want for yourself?

  17. Emir:
    “how does it mean I do not respect my wife simply because I also love and respect my other wife?”

    Emir, I have a newsflash for you. It’s not all about YOU.

  18. Alone:
    “I had friends at 411. I needed there to vent with people who can relate. Now I am alone”

    OK. That wasn’t the answer that I anticipated, but I understand. Why are you using a different handle?

  19. Alone, i am sorry that you feel alone because of polygamy411 blog closing. Just think about all the women in Muslim countries where women aren’t allowed to drive, use internet and sometimes also not allowed to watch tv (it’s bad influence) basically all they do is housework, child care and make Duah. One thing that keeps women busy is that they generally have a bunch of kids. So keep yourself busy with kids and housework. Keep your house so clean and inviting that your husband looks forward to coming to you. While he is gone bake some cookies and any other treats he likes so that those are ready when he is with you. I hope this helps.

  20. I am assuming you already pray five times a day. If not do that and in addition make Duah whenever you are not feeling good. This and the previous comment. That’s all that a believing Muslimah needs to solve all her problems.

  21. Emir, I agree its possible for you (and your wife as well) to fall in love with another person while still having much love and respect for your current spouse.

  22. @ Emir I agree with Laila absolutely that you can love a second spouse parallel to your first spouse. Human beings routinely romantically love more than one person at the same time.

    This is not about parallel feelings of love not being possible. You were talking about loving and specifically respecting your spouses. What is respect? We typically define it as reciprocal or symmetrical courtesy, I’d say. We want others to award us the courtesies we can expect by our status, decency etc. When we afford courtesies to others, and do not get them in return, we feel disrespected.

    In your marriages, you enjoy excitement and sexuality with several women. They have only you. You do not afford them the liberties you take. Your liberties are single-sided, your enjoyment is only for you. Your wives are expected to sit home alone while you go out for excitement. That is not respect. It might be love because one can love people that are away, but it lacks respect when one takes what one is not willing to give. If you think of it, all other relationships except husband and wife are reciprocal. Parents are above children, but they make an early investment. They care for the child first, and at a certain point the tides turn and the children care for the parents. And children get to be parents at some point. No wife ever gets to a position where she can enjoy what she has given in terms of liberties, excitement and adventure.

    You can kid yourself all you want on how your arrangement is God pleasing, it is not fair. It advantages you over your wives, for once and for all.

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