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Religious Studies

Islam: prejudice and discrimination

Attitudes towards women

Islam also teaches that men and women are equal in the sight of Allah [Allah: The Islamic name for God in the Arabic language ]. They are individually accountable for their actions, and will be judged equally by Allah.

However, although men and women are equal, they are not the same. They have different purposes. It is part of Allah’s design and purpose for men and women to have different physical characteristics; likewise it is the duty of a man to provide for the financial needs of his family, and for a woman to look after the home and family.

Some of these differences and responsibilities are mentioned in the following words from the Qur’an [Qur'an: That which is read or recited. The Divine Book revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Allah's final revelation to humankind. ]:

O Prophet, direct thy wives and daughters and the women of the believers that they should pull down their outer cloaks from their heads over their faces. This will make it possible for them to be distinguished so that they will not be molested.

Surah 33:59

Wives have rights corresponding to those which the husbands have, in equitable reciprocity, though, in certain situations men would have the final word and would thus enjoy a preference.

Surah 2:229

Men are appointed guardians over women, because of that in respect of which Allah has made some of them excel others, and because men spend of their wealth.

Surah 4:35

Muslim women

Young women in Iran

Although the rights of women are different to those of men, they do have the right to choose whom they marry, to divorce [Divorce: The legal ending of a marriage before the death of a spouse. ], to study, to own property, to conduct business and to take part in politics.

The Prophet Muhammad [Muhammad: The name of the final Prophet. ] stressed the importance of women and the respect that should be shown to them when he said: Paradise lies at the feet of your mother. (Sunan An-Nasa’i).

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