Though Queen Rania of Jordan herself could disprove many misconceptions of Muslim females in general, other women just like her– powerful, beautiful, strong, intelligent and self-sufficient, and Muslim — are going above and beyond the call of duty, making names for themselves and proving that many misconceptions of women in Islam are incorrect. Let’s examine some of these common-day thoughts on Muslim women and address why they’re wrong.
1. The niqab, or veil, is required
A staple in ladies’ closets throughout the Middle East and parts of South Asia, the niqab is often closely connected to Islam. This, however, is a common misconception. Neither the Qur’an nor Hadith mention the veil as obligatory and the majority of present-day Islamic scholars deem it as merely cultural with no religious ties whatsoever. Although the Qur’an calls on both men and women to dress modestly, covering of the face is not a requirement.
2. Women are not allowed an education
In the first revelation of the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad is told to “READ.” Allah encourages Muslims to gain knowledge in any way possible, to read and learn and teach others. This commandment holds no gender card and applies to both sexes and all ages. Ilm, or knowledge, is one of the most important things in Islam. Though women are generally less educated than men, it is due to cultural reasons not tied to Islam. I know several female Muslim doctors, lawyers, journalists, and other professionals who would not have their jobs without college degrees and education.
3. Men are better than women
Gender equality in Islam is a hot topic in the media and women are commonly seen as lower class citizens. This, however, is not pertinent to Islam, as women and men are treated equally, but different, since different genders have different needs. “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…” (3:195) Not only in this surah, but throughout the Qur’an, Allah continues to use “male or female” to reiterate that males and females are indeed equals.
4. Women cannot have jobs outside the home
In Islam, women are not required to work outside the home, but have the option to do so. The husband’s duty is providing for the wife, children, and paying any bills the family may have. If, however, the wife decides to work outside the home, any money she makes is hers and she may do with it as she pleases. Also, if a woman is unable, or simply chooses not to cook and clean, the husband must pay for a maid and cook. The wife’s only obligatory duties are faithfulness to the husband and her children.
5. Polygamy is accepted and women have no say in it
The Qur’an strongly discourages polygamy, a common practice some 1400 years ago when it was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Ideally, polygamy is meant to populate, but is not necessary in present time. The idea of polygamy was meant solely for the aforementioned and not for sexual pleasure, as many use it for today. Also, take into account that at the time, both Christians and Jews practiced polygamy, as well.
Perhaps the best way to learn about treatment of women in Islam is to learn about the ways of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, and not look at how so-called “Islamic countries” treat women today. Islam is a religion of peace, equality, and understanding, and if practiced in the way of the first Muslims, women have the same rights as men. What happens in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, and in other places around the world is not a correct depiction of true Islam. There was only one perfect Muslim, and he lived over 1400 years ago.
Source: The Holy Qur’an