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IRE6/1: Equality between man and woman

This unit covers Equality of woman and man in society.

Equality of woman and man in societyEquality simply means the state of being equal to one another. Equality and the concept of Islamic brotherhood are synonymous. These two combined together can promote international peace and tranquility

Belief in Islamic monotheism has a direct bearing on the idea of equality, because, belief in a single creator and sustainer who created all mankind, male and female, black and white, gives a clear idea that all human beings are equal as servants of Allah

The story of Adam and Eve as told in the Quran forms part of the Islamic human equality. The Quran does not throw the blame for the first mistake on the shoulders of Eve alone. Adam and Eve are said to be equally to blame for the mistake and disobeying Allah and allowing themselves to be tempted by the devil.

All Prophets carried the same message of equality to their adherents. Their way of life displayed the significance of the concept of equality in society. A case in point is Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who practiced equality in an exemplary way. Whenever he joined a gathering, he never pushed his way to the front but simply sat where he found space.

All human beings are born equal in the sense that no one comes with any property. All children come from their mothers’ wombs empty handed and when they die, they go empty handed. No one is buried their wealth, which shows that human beings are equal to each other.

The Quran teaches that all human beings are children of Adam and therefore, they share the same pedigree (status/class). Therefore, if all people are from the same father and mother, how can they be superior to others in terms of language and location?

Chapter 49:13 says: ‘Oh mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other.’

The Quran teaches that all human beings have the right to enjoy the legitimate bounties of that God has created. This implies that, all human beings are equal. Chapter 2:168 says: ‘Oh Mankind! Eat of that which is lawful and good on earth.’

The Quran denounces racism which shows the significance of equality of mankind.

Racism is the belief that some races of people are better than other races. It therefore involves poor treatment of people or violence against people because of their race or colour. The Quran says: ‘Mankind is not but a single nation.’ 2:213

The Quran teaches that all people have the same mission on earth, and that is, to worship Allah. This is seen in chapter 51:56 which says: ‘And I created not the Jinn and mankind except that they should worship me’

Equality is expressed in all religious services according to the Quran. For instance, observance of prayer, fasting, hajj etc. in these services, man and woman will be rewarded equally. Quran says: ‘Whoever works righteousness whether male or female while he or she is a true believer, verily to him or her, We will give a good life.’ 16:97

There will be justice and equality in whatever punishment that will be given to the wrong doers without discrimination as seen in chapter 9:68: ‘Allah has promised the hypocrites men and women and the disbelievers the fire of hell, therein shall they abide.’

Equality between man and woman:

Both Adam and Eve were responsible in aiding each other in the act of getting near the forbidden tree which the devil called the tree of immortality (7:20). As soon as the couple tasted of that tree, they lost their heavenly garments and concealed their private parts with leaves from the garden. Chapter 7:22 says: ‘Did I not forbid you that tree and tell: verily, satan is an open enemy unto you?’

Both Adam and Eve repented to Allah (7:23) and Allah forgave them. Chapter 2:37 says: ‘Then Adam received from his Lord words (of repentance). And his Lord pardoned him. Verily, He is the One who forgives, the Most Merciful.’ Basing on this verse, Islam does not allow the doctrine of the original sin.

Both man and woman are advised by Allah to guard well their private parts and that the best garment and covering is Taqwa (God consciousness/fearing). God says they should not allow the devil to strip them off their garments as he did to Adam and Eve in the garden. God says: ‘Oh children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment to cover your shame as well as to be an adornment to you.’ 7:26, 7:27

Both men and women are addressed by God as believers who protect each. Chapter 9:71 says: ‘The Believers men and women are helpers (protectors) of one another.’ Although men and women have different anatomy, physiology and sexual hormones, they are equal as taught in the above verse.

Allah makes no difference between the actions and rewards for men and women. If both men and women practice righteous deeds, Allah will admit both of them to paradise. Chapter 9:72 says: ‘Allah has promised to believers, men and women gardens under which rivers flow.’ This implies that if man and woman practice evil, their abode will be hell fire (16:97)

Both men and women are created by Allah in the best of moulds (stature/image/design)and therefore, they need to respect each other. Chapter 95:4 says: ‘Verily! We created man in the best stature.

Man and woman have been created for each other for the sake of providing tranquility to one another. Chapter 30:21 says: ‘And among his signs is this that He created for you wives from among yourselves.’

Men and women were created to be garments for each other for mutual support and comfort and cover up each other’s short comings. Chapter 2:187 says: ‘permitted to you on the night of the fast is the approach to your wives. They are your garments and you are their garments.

Men are not superior to women in terms of actions (deeds). These actions include prayers, payment of zakat, fasting etc. The Quran says: ‘And to men a portion of that which they have earned and to women is a portion of that which they have earned.’ 4:32

Both men and women have the right to inherit property of the deceased. Chapter 4:7 says: ‘There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related…’ (also see 4:11-12, 4:176)

Both men and women are allowed by the Quran to witness the signing of the contract as seen in chapter 2:282 which says: ‘…and get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and one women…’

Both men and women are responsible for procreation of children and proper upbringing of these children, as seen in chapter 2:233 which says: ‘The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, (that is) for those who desire to complete the term of suckling, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food…’

Both men and women have been endowed with individual freedom of thoughts, feelings, decision making and actions. Islam respects the decisions and advises given by women once they are in line with the sharia. The Prophet (PBUH) was on several occasions advised by his wives such as Khadija, Umm Salmah, Aisha etc

Both men and women have the right to seek knowledge (education). The Prophet (PBUH) said that: ‘seeking knowledge is a duty for both male and female.’ (Abu Dauda). He also indiscriminately said that, seek knowledge from the cradle to the

Both bear the responsibility of running the home. Each of them has a role to play in managing home affairs such as proper upbringing of children, provision of food, advising each other, to mention a few.

They both have the right to terminate (dissolve) the marriage contract in case conditions warrant it. The dissolution of the marriage contract by men is called Talaq (2:228) while that of women is called khulu-u as seen in chapter 2:229