Islam is a religion by men for men. The narrative of Islam empowers women is just not true. Islam may have given women some rights they did not have, but it also froze their rights in time to 1400 years ago.
Here is a quote that sums up the entire post:
If I were to command anyone to make prostration before another I would command women to prostrate themselves before their husbands, because of the special right over them given to husbands by Allah. (Abu Dawud, 2140)
Revelations directed to men only
They taught me this following story as an example of how women are respected in Islam. Allah even revealed a verse for them! In retrospect, it’s clear that complaining to the prophet is the only way to get Allah to consider women’s needs. Women just aren’t high on the list.
The wife of Prophet Muhammad Umm Salamah asked her husband why are we not mentioned in the Quran like the men are?
Imam Ahmad recorded that Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, the wife of the Prophet said, “Why is it that we are not mentioned in the Qur’an as men are?” (Tafsir of Quran 33:35)
Umm Salamah said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have not heard Allah mentioning anything about women and emigration.” (Tirmidhi.)
To which the verses of Quran came:
“So Allah, Blessed and Most High, revealed: “Never will I allow to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female. You are members one of another” (3:195).
“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 Allah often and the women who do so — for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (Quran 33:35)
Testimony — One man or TWO women?
A woman’s witness is half of a man’s in the Quran:
“..And bring to witness two witnesses from among your men. And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as witnesses — so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her…” (Quran 2:282)
In case she forgets? Wow, Allah, why do you say that? Are women dumb or forgetful or something? Actually Prophet Muhammad explained this verse to us:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Isn’t the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?” The women said, “Yes.” He said, “This is because of the deficiency of a woman’s mind.” (Bukhari 2658)
This hadith is one explanation why this strange rule is in the Quran. If it’s true, it shows that Muhammad thought women had bad memories or were stupid. Ibn Kathir takes this interpretation as well.
This is ridiculous because we have seen women, many of them far more intelligent and with better memories than men, being successful doctors, lawyers, artists, accountants, business owners (like Khadijah) and more! This completely underestimates the intelligence of women.
Her husband can beat her for simply fearing her disobedience according to the Quran.
A woman wanted retaliation (because the Quran prescribes eye-for-eye) after her husband slapped her and look what happened:
Around the time when the verse on retaliation was revealed amongst the Muslims, a man had slapped his wife. She went to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace and said: “My husband has slapped me and I want retaliation”. So he said: “Let there be retaliation”. As he was still dealing with her, Allah, exalted is He, revealed (Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other”). Upon which the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “We wanted something and my Lord wanted something different. O man, take your wife by the hand” “. (Asbab Al Nuzul by Wahidi for 4:34)
Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance — [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. (Quran 4:34)
The above story explains how the verse came about. Muhammad did not punish men for beating their wives. He considered it the natural order. Yet again we find the Quran coming with teachings of questionable moral value.
Take a look at the following two videos I made on the topic:
Another strange thing in Islam is how it bullies wives into having sex with their husband. A woman may not reject her husband’s sexual advances. If a woman rejects her husbands sexual advances she is cursed all night by the angels. In a healthy relationship you shouldn’t have to coerce or threaten your spouse to sleep with you.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “If a husband calls his wife to his bed (i.e. to have sexual relation) and she refuses and causes him to sleep in anger, the angels will curse her till morning.” (Bukhari 3237, Bukhari)
And if she is cooking she has to drop what she is doing to have sex with him:
If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anyone other than Allah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad! No woman can fulfill her duty towards Allah until she fulfills her duty towards her husband. If he asks her (for intimacy) even if she is on her camel saddle, she should not refuse.’ ”
(Ibn Majah, rated Hasan)
She is not allowed to perform optional fasts or make up her missed Ramadan fasts without his permission because he might want to have sex. Aisha said she had to wait all year before making up her Ramadan fasts because Muhammad “needed her”:
The Prophet said: “A woman may not fast a day — other than in the month of Ramadan — while her husband is present, except with his permission.” (Tirmidhi)
Do you see a pattern? A woman is subservient to her husband in all regards. But sexual rights should go both ways. Both the husband needs to care for his wife and the wife care for her husband. It shouldn’t be only about the man. Was Muhammad sexually frustrated? Did his wives not want to sleep with him? In a healthy relationship you shouldn’t have to coerce or threaten your spouse to sleep with you.
Only Men can unilaterally divorce in Islam:
‘Any woman who asks her husband for a divorce when it is not absolutely necessary, the fragrance of Paradise will be forbidden to her.’” (Ibn Majah 2055)
Not smelling paradise is another way of saying she will not go to paradise. Women can request their marriage to be annulled (called Khula in arabic) but they have to give back their Maher (marital gift). A man simply has to utter a word and over a three-month period she is divorced. I expand on this in great detail in my post Divorce in Islam
Divorce in Islam
Divorce laws in Islam are the perfect example of a flawed system that leads to volatile and unstable family dynamics…
Men can marry multiple partners:
And if you fear that you will not deal justly with the orphan girls, then marry those that please you of [other] women, two or three or four. But if you fear that you will not be just, then [marry only] one or those your right hand possesses. That is more suitable that you may not incline [to injustice]. (Quran 4:3)
They can marry Christian and Jewish women:
And [lawful in marriage are] chaste women from among the believers and chaste women from among those who were given the Scripture before you, when you have given them their due compensation, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse or taking [secret] lovers. (Quran 5:5)
They can have sexual intercourse with their slaves:
We went out with the Apostle of Allaah(ﷺ) on the expedition to Banu Al Mustaliq and took some Arab women captive and we desired the women for we were suffering from the absence of our wives and we wanted ransom, so we intended to withdraw the penis (while having intercourse with the slave women). But we asked ourselves “can we draw the penis when the Apostle of Allaah(ﷺ) is among us before asking him about it? So we asked him about it. He said “it does not matter if you do not do it, for very soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born.” (Abu Dawud 2172)
“And those who guard their private parts. Except from their wives or those their right hands possess, for indeed, they are not to be blamed — “ (Quran 70:29–30)
Yet again, men have the upper hand. Islamic law does not allow women to be polygamous, only men. It does not allow women to sleep with their male slaves. Islam allows only men to marry non-Muslim women, not the other way around. See my longer post here on Sleeping with Female Captives of War in Islam.
My daughter would get half a share of what my sons get if I die.
“Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females.” (Quran 4:11)
How does this make any sense? I would wish my daughter to have a fair share to her brothers. Muslims will sometimes say “well her brothers should take care of her.” But this is a terrible argument. Why should she get half of what my boys get? Who will guarantee they will take care of her if she doesn’t get an equal share?
How is it beneficial to have a rule that sons get double what daughters gets?
It’s possible this made sense in a certain society and context. But no longer this is the case. Islam may have given women some rights, such as the right to own property, but it also took away some rights from them.
It’s reported that Muhammad said most of hell is full of women:
Once Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) of `Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, “O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women).” They asked, “Why is it so, O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) ?” He replied, “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.” The women asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?” He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” (Bukhari 304, Bukhari and Tirmidhi)
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “I looked at Paradise and found poor people forming the majority of its inhabitants; and I looked at Hell and saw that the majority of its inhabitants were women.” (Bukhari 3241 and others)
If its true, not sure what the point of this misogynist teaching was. It seems like it was a threat to get more donations from the Muslim women. Or maybe Muhammad just hated women.
In paradise men get fair big breasted sex dolls to hump and bump with all day:
“And with them will be women limiting [their] glances and of equal age.” (Quran 38:52)
“In them are good and beautiful women -
Fair ones reserved in pavilions -
Untouched before them by man or jinni -
Reclining on green cushions and beautiful fine carpets.”
“And full-breasted [companions] of equal age” (Quran 78:33)
As you can see it’s not just a man’s world in Islam, it’s a man’s hereafter too. Muslim scholars used to answer women who asked about this by saying “Don’t worry, Allah will make you happy in paradise. You won’t be jealous seeing your husband sleeping with multiple wives and the hoor-al-ayn. Allah will cure your jealousy.” The repeated questions on this topic I encountered shows that Muslim women frequently wonder “how is this fair?” They saw the Quran describing sexual benefits for men but nothing for women.
In conclusion, Islam is one-sided in its treatment of women. It gives almost all the rights to men over women in every way possible. It describes a man’s paradise and hardly caters to women. While Islam may have been progressive in some sense 1400 years ago, it is no longer so. We can do better with secular humanism. We need not refer to ancient and outdated, and sometimes contradictory ramblings of 7th century men and the scholars that followed on how to live our life.
- “Can a Wife Refuse her Husband’s Call to Bed” (Hanafi)
- “A woman refusing to have intercourse with her husband”
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