A follow-up: Islam embraces gender equality

genderSource: Duluth News Tribune

By M. Imran Hayee

Part of the feedback to my April 6 Local View column, “Quran forbids men from hurting wives,” indicated a mistaken inference by some that Islam gives husbands and wives an unequal partnership in marriage. I would like to make it clear that Islam not only forbids men from abusing women under any circumstance; it also champions gender equality.

In my column, I discussed women’s “disobedience” to describe a serious spousal conflict. I think that, in part, can be blamed for the confusion.

The Arabic word “nashuz” used in the quoted Quranic verse does not mean a simple act of disobedience; rather, it implies a clear deviation from the expected conduct of a partner that poses a tangible threat to the marriage or family integrity, e.g., having an extramarital affair or losing the family’s life savings in a poker game. While either partner could commit such evil acts, the Quran advises only the man to curb his anger and to try his best to reconcile when it is his wife who is at fault. A Muslim man can divorce his wife only after all attempts to reconcile fail. On the contrary, Islam makes it easier for a Muslim woman to part ways with an evil-doing husband by giving her the right to seek divorce with or without a reason. In Pakistan, where men can find many un-Islamic ways to exploit women, a woman’s right to seek divorce at her discretion is the law.

In all other matters, Islam gives both men and women equal rights, including the right to an education, to choose whom to marry, or which career to pursue. Although the Quran makes the husband responsible for providing for the family and the wife responsible for homemaking, it neither restricts them to lend a hand to each other nor does it make one superior to the other.

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Additional Reading

Gender Equality in the Holy Qur’an – In the Beginning Man and Woman Were Equal

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