(Arab. Imra, al-Mara, Turk. Kadın)
According to the Qur’an, God created woman from the same entity (4:1) as man. Woman and man are servants of God and are addressed in the same way (7:19, 22, 24–25). The term for ‘person’ found in the Qur’an encompasses woman and man; consequently, the statements addressed to man apply to woman as well (2:25, 82, 172). Women and men among the faithful are one another’s allies (9:71). Differences of gender may not play a role in judgements of virtues (49:13). No distinction is made between women and men with regard to faith and religious practice, either (2:8, 62, 177).
As for rights and responsibilities, the woman is an individual independent of the man, and she is a servant of God (33:35; 92:3–11). Women as well as men are responsible in the same measure for their good and bad deeds in the same measure (41:46; 45:15). Accordingly, women pledged allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad independently of men (60/12). In the modern era, this event has been interpreted as the basis from which women’s political right of suffrage derives. Another example relates to the situation of a woman who complained to the Prophet Muhammad that her husband wanted to divorce her on account of her age. Whereupon verses were revealed that confirmed the woman’s right (58:1–4); because the woman in question conferred with the Prophet about her husband, defending her rights in the process, the Surah containing these verses were named ‘The Pleading Woman’.
The Qur’an has given women many freedoms in financial matters: They may freely dispose of their assets (2:43, 110, 254) and have an entitlement to their inheritance (4:7). God prohibits discrimination against women and very harshly condemns the pre-Islamic Arabic custom of burying one’s daughters alive (16:58–59; 81:8–9). In principle, Islamic women can be as active in all areas of life (economics, politics, education, culture, art) as men are. Muhammad said that the mother’s rights stem from the father’s (cf. Bukhari). Because the Prophet attached particular importance to a certain level of education among mothers raising their children, he also let it be known that the acquisition of knowledge was an obligation (fard) of every Muslim, whether man or woman (cf. Ibn Majah).
There are many women who have been successful in a variety of areas down through the history of Islam. It is readily apparent from Qur’an and the Sunnah that traditional lore and assessments that are derogatory of women and place them at a disadvantage have nothing to do with the Islamic religion. Qur’anic verses, on the other hand – relating to such matters as inheritance, testimony and punishment – that seem to suggest inequality between man and woman reflect the sociocultural and socioeconomic context of the era in which the Qur’an was revealed (2:282, 4:11, 34).
Nevertheless, down through history – and even to this day – discriminating views have been expressed towards women. When some of the wrong behaviours towards women in the past and present are examined, it becomes clear that there is a vast discrepancy between the binding sources of Islam and the for the most part patriarchal societies engaged in these behaviours.
İsmail Hakkı Ünal