Women and Islam

As an environmentalist, now convert/ revert to Islam, I was first and foremost struck by the Quran and actions of early Muslims, especially guidance from Prophet Muhammed’s (peace be upon him), environmental teachings and actions – longest chapter is named ‘Cow’ (as are many chapters named after natural elements), emphasis on our duty of guardianship, if it reads anthropocentric, that’s only because other species have no free will (a tree can but be a tree …) and thus don’t need a manual to consider consulting. However, as an educated Western woman I so regularly get queries about the position of women in Islam that I thought it might help to add a page here on it (initially snippets, then further elaboration as and when I have the time):

– the oldest existing and continually operating educational institution in the world according to UNESCO and Guinness World Records was founded in 859 CE by a Muslim woman, the University of Qarawiyyin in modern day Morocco;

– no, men do not pray in front of women in the mosque because they’re better/ women are second class … it’s because God knows women can better concentrate than men if anyone in front of them is prostrating;

– women don’t inherit half of men because they’re worth less… because their portion comes with no strings attached, whilst men have to spend it on family;

– why women can’t have more than one husband (if a man can have more than one wife): because it’s not only about men and women… but a child’s right to know it’s parentage;

hijab is not about a woman covering up her hair for a man, it’s modesty of dress and behaviour for both genders (the Quran addresses men first about need to dress and behave modestly) and recognition as Muslim so that focus is on content not packaging;

– where in the West dowry is usually from the bride’s parents to the groom to ‘alleviate the burden’, in Islam the dowry is from the groom to the bride to confirm his seriousness of intent (and for her to keep even in case of marriage not going through or divorce);

– what was hers before marriage remains hers (and a husband has no right to access it without her consent); what was his becomes lawful for her to use (and by the way: Prophet Muhammad was not a paedophile!! – see also this article on Aisha’s age)

– no a man is *not* allowed to beat his wife (the in/famous verse 4:34)

and on another topic: death penalty is for treason (as in many jurisdictions), not apostasy …. (nobody was killed for this in Muhammed’s life time)

disclaimer: I am not a scholar; the above is a simplified presentation of what I have learned from my studies of Islam over the last 15 years. Feel free to disagree, but I will not tolerate/ accept any aggressive etc responses; decent conversation/ debate, yes of course, but I have no time for people who have made up their mind and want to dissuade me from Islam: ‘to you be your religion, to me be my religion’ (Quran 109:6).


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