Ethical Treatment of Women in Islam Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Ethical Treatment of Women in Islam

"Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers." (from the last sermon of Prophet Mohammed) (Women in Islam)

There is a generally common perception in the West that the ethical treatment of women in Islam amounts to gender discrimination, oppression and a transgression of basic human rights. Notwithstanding the issue of the way different cultures treat women, this is not a perception that is endorsed by many within Islamic communities and it certainly does not concur with actual Islamic teachings. This can be seen for the very outset in the way that the Koran describes the creation of women. In the Holy Scriptures there is no implicit difference made in terms of status or intrinsic value between male and female. In ethical terms, while there are differences between men and women, these biological differences do not impact or affect ethical values and treatment of women. Men and women are seen to be essentially the same in terms of relative value and status. Women are not seen to have any limitations when compared to men.

Despite the distinctions between the treatment of men and the treatment of women when the Qur'an discusses creation of humankind, ... that there is no essential difference in the value attributed to women and men. There are no indications, therefore, that women have more or fewer limitations than men. (Wadud 15)

The author of Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman's Perspective emphasizes the inherent equality between the sexes as stated in the Qur'an. "Man and woman are two categories of the human species given the same or equal consideration and endowed with the same or equal potential. Neither is excluded in the principal purpose of the Book, which is to guide humankind towards recognition of and belief in certain truths." (ibid)

The author goes on to state that, in terms of religious belief, there is no difference between men and women in an ethical sense. "The Qur'an encourages all believers, male and female, to follow their belief with actions, and for this it promises them a great reward. Thus, the Qur'an does not make a distinction between men and women in this creation ... Or in the reward it promises." (ibid)

This view is reiterated in many studies and interpretations of religious law. Qur'an 3:195 tells us: Their Lord responded to them: "I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you MALE OR FEMALE, YOU ARE EQUAL TO ONE ANOTHER ... " (Are men and women equal in God's judgment? )

Therefore there is no male and female stereotypy which infers necessary or prior inferiority or superiority in the creation myth in Islam. There are however different roles ascribed for men and women -- such as social and cultural roles which relate to both women and men in society. However, these roles are not seen to be intrinsically inferior or superior to one another. In religious and ethical terms the action and functions of men and women are exactly the same in terms of value.

It should be noted that in different cultures there have been signs of a misinterpretation to basic and foundational ethics of Islam which has resulted in many instances of unfair and discriminatory gender bias. However, in terms of the ethics of Islam as laid down in the Islamic scriptures, there is no evidence of any bias. In fact the opposite is true and there is certain irony in the fact that, while much of the criticism of Islam has come from Western sources, Christian scriptures often reveal much more bias and discrimination against women than can be found than the Qur'an.

Islamic scriptures attest to the equality of the sexes in a number of ways. With regard to the creational myth of humanity, the "Qur'an emphasizes the single origin of all humankind: 'He created you (all) from a single nafs' (4:1) (Are men and women equal in God's judgment?) There is also no distinction between male and female in terms of their growth and development during their period on earth. "Allah does not change the condition of a folk until they (first) change what is in their anfus' (13:11)" (ibid)

2. Woman as an individual

The foundation of an ethics of equality is the recognition of the individual as a person in their own right, free to act and not subservient to any other human being. This implies that no prejudicial treatment may be ethically applied. There is a common perception from some quarters that women in Islam are only considered from a social and cultural perspective; as mothers, home makers etc. In other words, they only have value in these terms and not as individuals per se. This is another stereotypical assumption about Islam which is not supported by the scriptures. The Qur'an is in fact very specific in its insistence on the fully-fledged individuality of the woman with the same essential rights as the man in society.

For the most part, the Qur'anic consideration of woman on earth centres on her relationship to the group, i.e. As a member of a social system. However, it is also important to understand how the Qur'an focuses on a woman as an individual because the Qur'an treats the individual, whether male or female, in exactly the same manner: that is, whatever the Qur'an says about the relationship between Allah and the individual is not in gender terms. With regard to spirituality, there are no rights of woman distinct from rights of man. (Wadud 34)

In other words, in terms of ethics and treatment of women, the Qur'an does not place any emphasis of either male or female in terms of an individuals capacity or ability. "There is no distinction between the male and the female with regard to individual capacity. " (ibid)

There are many instances when the actual teachings of Islam are contradictory to commonly held assumptions about the treatment of women in Islamic counties. One of these is that Islamic women are bound in marriage against their will. While this might be the case in certain countries and cultural contexts, it is not the part of the ethos of Islam. "Indeed, Islam insists on the free consent of both bride and groom, so such marriages could even be deemed illegal under religious law." (Maqsood, Ruqaiyyah Waris)

The Qur'an makes it clear that women "were created of a single soul," and are moral equals in the sight of God." (ibid) According to Islamic religious law women have the right to divorce as well as inherit property and the right to education and knowledge. The Qur'an also states quite clearly that women are just as vital and important to life as men and she is not "inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species." (Hammuda Abdul-Ati)

At the same time it should be pointed out that while ethically the rights of women are equal to men, the rights and responsibilities of men and women are not identical. "The rights and responsibilities of women are equal to those of men but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things."(ibid)

Therefore for this reason there are differences is the responsibilities of women as well as in the expectations of her role in the home and society -- but these differences do not necessarily imply inequality.

In many ways the situation of Islamic women, in terms of the religious ethics, is doctrinally better to women in a Christian context. For example, there is no association made of women with evil and deception. "Unlike other popular beliefs, Islam does not blame Eve alone for the First Sin." (ibid) Islamic texts make it clear that the blame for temptation in Eden was shared by both Adam and Eve.

The Qur'an makes it very clear that both Adam and Eve were tempted; that they both sinned; that God's pardon was granted to both after their repentance; and that God addressed them jointly. (2:35-36); 7:19, 27; 20:117-123) (ibid)

There are a number of other aspects that point to the equitable ethical view of women in Islam. Women are recognized as full and equal partners of men and as such her role is as significant and important as his. Importantly, women are allowed freedom of expression and are encouraged to become educated.

It is reported in the Qur'an and history that woman 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 (Qur'an, 58:1-4; 60:10-12). (What are women's rights in Islam? Islamic Org)

The following is a brief summary of some of the rights relating to the ethical status of women in Islamic society.

In a truly Islamic society women have the following rights:

The right and duty to obtain education.

The right to have their own independent property.

The right to…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Ethical Treatment Of Women In Islam" (2005, January 10) Retrieved November 29, 2016, from

"Ethical Treatment Of Women In Islam" 10 January 2005. Web.29 November. 2016. <>

"Ethical Treatment Of Women In Islam", 10 January 2005, Accessed.29 November. 2016,

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Status of Women in Islam

    Actually, the first revelation to Prophet Muhammad was related with the message of knowledge (Adeel, 2010, 106). Therefore, the Qur'an does not limit knowledge to one sex since it's the responsibility of all Muslims to pursue knowledge in their entire life. The Qur'an specifies equal legal rights for every individual in the Islamic religion from cradle to grave. The book declares the right for men and women to enjoy

  • Islam and Terrorism

    Islam and Terrorism Is Islam Somehow Correlated with Terrorism? Background of Islam Stereotypical Perceptions of Islam Public Opinion Polls Islam in the Media There is a common stereotype that persists in the West that associates the Islamic faith with violence and terrorism. This mindset has been perpetuated through many individuals who base their opinions on past conflicts and influential events that have occurred in recent history. This perception has created tension between cultures that based on

  • Islamic Teachings and Their Practice in Different

    Islamic Teachings and Their Practice in Different Cultures Islam a highly controversial sensitive issue today's world, misconceptions beliefs, values, goals. For, Americans Muslims live Middle East, reality Indonesia people Islamic faith. What means Islam, Islamic teachings and their practice in different cultures Islam developed in the 7th century, in the Middle East. It is a monotheistic religious tradition. Islam which means submit or surrender literally, is founded upon the teachings of Prophet Muhammad,

  • Ethical Practice Involves Working Positively Diversity Difference

    Ethical Practice Involves Working Positively Diversity Difference Counseling is a profession that involves associations based on principles and values ethically. Patients are able to benefit by understanding themselves better and through creating relationships with others. Through counseling, the clients are able to make positive alteration in life and enhance their living standards. Communities, organizations, couples and families are different groups of individuals are main sources of relationships (BACP Ethical Framework, 2013,

  • Healing Rituals Across Islam I Was Just

    Healing Rituals Across Islam I was just 15 years old, and one day my grandmother found me. Left by a rebel at the side of the road my, grandmother knew. She knew by the fear in my eyes that I had just been raped. When she saw me she cried, and took me inside for no one to see me. She then went to the bush to find country medicine, and

  • Female Genital Mutilation Fgm in Ethiopia as Women s Rights

    Female Genital Mutilation in Ethiopia: A Human Rights Issue Female genital mutilation (FGM) is a common phenomenon in Ethiopia, which has the highest rate of FGM among African countries, despite international and national efforts to eliminate the phenomenon. Why FGM persists despite these efforts to end the practice is an issue that puzzles scholars and activists, particularly because efforts to end FGM have seen some success outside of Ethiopia. Does the

  • Misunderstood Role of Women in

    A view of this event captures an incredible sea of worshippers flowing like a human river in the footsteps of the prophet Mohammed, who it is said arrived at this spot some 1400 years ago to pay homage to Abraham. The role of the woman as it is understood through the ritual reenactments are quite different from the unequal stance which is often assumed of Muslim women today, with Hagar

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved