A common question non Muslims ask is: Are men equal to women in Islam? Why do men have more rights than women in Islam? In the last article, we dealt with women rights in Islam. The differences between men and women and how Islam dealt with these differences within the Islamic laws shall be highlighted here.
First of all, it must be highlighted that if we are talking about the relationship with God, then for sure they are equal. The holy Quran says:
97. Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do. (Holy Quran 16:97)
35. Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allāh often and the women who do so – for them Allāh has prepared forgiveness and a great reward. (Holy Quran 33:35)
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) says:
Woman are counterpart of men. (Narrated by Abu Dawood)
But Islam recognizes that men have a different nature than women. On the basis of this nature, they have different responsibilities, and since they have different responsibilities, they have different rights. So actually Islam is not concerned with equality, but Islam is rather concerned with justice. Justice doesn’t always mean equality. Allah says in the Quran:
34. Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allāh has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. (Holy Quran 4:34)
So actually when Islam gave authority to men over women. This authority is not for free, but man should fulfill his responsibilities to deserve this authority. The first responsibility, man should spend on the house. In Islam, a wife is not asked to spend one cent on the house as this is the sole responsibility of man. Actually man is even asked when he marries to pay mahr, which is a gift from man he should pay as a part of contract. All the duty of the wife is to take care of her house and children, because her role is to build a righteous Islamic society, and this is her job as the job of the husband is to work and spend on the house. That’s why a brother inherits double what the sister inherits in some cases, because he has many financial duties, unlike the sister whom shall save all the inheritance.
The other point is that man has a different nature than a woman, either in his strength which makes him able to perform many jobs a woman may not be able to perform. Also in most cases, women are governed by their emotions much more than rational thinking. For sure this is not the case with all women, but it is the case with most women. Islam recognizes these differences, and laws in Islam take this point into consideration. So when we say that men and women are not equal in Islam, this is because men and women have different natures. Accordingly each has his role and responsibilities, hence each has different authorities.