Muslim women’s rights have been a topic of intense discussion and debate both within and outside the Muslim world. Muslim women have been victimized by both mainstream narratives. Muslim governments use Islamic texts as an excuse to discriminate against women and restrict women’s rights and freedoms. Western Islamophobic groups use these popular yet misogynistic interpretations of Islam to support their xenophobic claims. Women practising Islam are often subject to double standards based on their gender and religious beliefs. There are many misconceptions about women’s rights in Islam that need to be addressed. Let’s take a look at some of these false beliefs.
10 Misconceptions About Women’s Rights In Islam
Here are some commonly held misconceptions about the rights of women in Islam:
Women In Islam Do Not Have The Right To Divorce
Many people believe that Muslim women have no right to divorce their husbands. This is not true. According to Quran, “there is no blame on either of them if they came to terms with mutual consent and agreement (2:29-231).”
It also says, “if you fear a breach, then there is no blame on either of them if she makes a settlement (4:128).” Sadly, many women do not know that they are entitled to a divorce and the laws governing divorce.
Women In Islam Are Supposed To Be Subservient To Men
Another myth surrounding women’s rights in Islam is that we are supposed to be subservient to men. This is untrue. Islam values women and views them as equal partners with men. The Quran clearly shows that men and women should not be treated differently.
The Quran uses the word “Al-Imraan” to refer to men and women. The only difference is that good or bad deeds are rewarded or punished in different ways.
The Quran clearly states, “For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for truthful men and women, for patient men and women, for humble men and women, for charitable men and women, for fasting men and women, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah’s praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)”
A Muslim Woman Cannot Travel Without A Male Companion
Another myth is that a Muslim woman cannot travel without a male companion. This is not true. There is no restriction placed on Muslim women regarding travelling alone.
The only restriction placed on women is that they cannot travel if there is fear of being exploited or if there is a fear that their journey would lead to an illicit relationship.
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The Quran Does Not Give Women Equal Rights As Men
This is a myth that has no basis. Islam emphasizes the fact that men and women are equal. The Quran states that “there is no good in most of their secret thoughts, save in the case of those who had faith and did righteous deeds, and thereafter ironed out the twisted wrinkles in their hearts.”
The Quran also states that all humans are created equal, “O humankind! We have created you all out of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another (49:13).”
All Muslim Women Must Wear Hijab
Another misconception is that all Muslim women are required to be wearing hijabs and niqabs. While the Quran restricts what Muslim women can wear, it does not place any restrictions on wearing a hijab or a niqab.
The Quran places restrictions on the clothing of both men and women. It states, “O Children of Adam! Let not the devil tempt you in the absence of Allah as he expelled your parents from the garden, stripping them of their clothing, to show them their shame (7:27)”.
It also states that “O Children of Adam! Wear your beautiful apparel at every time and place of prayer (7:31).”
All Muslim Women Must Follow Sharia Law And Practices
Another myth is that all Muslim women must follow Sharia law and practices. This is false. Specifically, the Quran declares that “there is no compulsion in religion.” It also states that “no one is entitled to force others to embrace Islam against their will (2:256).”
Girls Are Legally Allowed To Marry At An Early Age
Again, a big misconception. Shariah laws do not permit girls under the age of 18 to marry in all Muslim countries. In addition to their physical and biological well-being, girls should wait until they are adults to get married. This is not Islamic law, but a custom or tradition of the local culture.
Islam Does Not Provide Equal Rights For Women
This is a very common myth. It is untrue. The Quran explicitly states that it is “encourage good and forbid evil” and not “promote evil and forbid good.”
As per the Quran, there is no difference between men and women in terms of the rights they are entitled to. In fact, through the Quran, Islam places the same restrictions on men as it does on women.
Islam Condones Domestic Violence And Abuse Against Women
A common misconception is that women in Islam are treated as second-class citizens and are victims of domestic violence and abuse. This is not true. The Holy Quran explicitly condemns domestic violence and abuse against women.
Most of the Quranic verse that is misinterpreted as a license to beat women was revealed in a particular context 2,000 years ago. In those days, attitudes towards women were very different from today.
Women’s role was very restricted in society; their main role was to look after the household and raise children. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) clarified that he had been sent to “end the tyranny of men towards women” and that he had been sent “to free the slaves and end the ignorance of the ignorance” (Bukhari, Muslim).
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) believed in a woman’s right to education, her right to earn a living, and her right to divorce her husband. He did not shy away from criticizing men who abused women.
Women In Islam Are Not Allowed To Work Or Earn A Living
Another interesting myth is that women in Islam are not allowed to earn a living. This is not true. From the very beginning of Islam, women were actively involved in the workforce. Prophet Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was not just his business partner but was also his mentor.
The role of women in the economy has always been prominent. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) declared that women were allowed to earn a living and engage in business. The only restriction for them is to avoid earning through unlawful means.
Final Thoughts On Muslim Women’s Rights
Women’s rights in Islam have been grossly misconstrued and misinterpreted by people who do not understand the religion. Women are not deprived of any rights in Islam, and they are seen as equal partners with men. It places the same restrictions on the clothing of men and women and does not place any restrictions on travelling alone for women. The Quran also makes it very clear that all humans are created equal and that there is no difference between men’s and women’s rights.
Rafia Tahir provides guest blogging and copywriting services. Her educational background in the technical field and business studies helps her in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. She is a certified Quran Scholar and she occasionally writes articles for Muslim And Quran.