Gender Equality and Islam- Their Complementary Nature to One Another
Men and women are equal in one aspect as both are human beings. In another sense, equality between men and women is impossible and an insane due to their natural differences in physical, mental, emotional and psychological qualities, affection and abilities. Keeping these two aspects in mind we must highlight how they are equal, and how they are respectful. Allah Almighty treat men and women as spiritual equals as in Holy Quran Allah Almighty says: “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another. So those who emigrated or were evicted from their homes or were harmed in My cause or fought or were killed – I will surely remove from them their misdeeds, and I will surely admit them to gardens beneath which rivers flow as a reward from Allah, and Allah has with Him the best reward.” (Quran, 3:195)
Men and women are created for one another. They both are mutually bound to each other as legal and honorable mate and spouse by the grace of Allah Almighty. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran: “O Mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily, the most honorable of you in the Sight of Allah is the believer who has Taqwa (piety and righteousness). Verily, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”(Quran, 49:13)
Men enjoyed rights are the duties of the women and the duties of men are the rights of women. This implies a similarity between both the genders. There is no right advice on a man that woman may be underprivileged because she is a woman. In Holy Quran, Allah Almighty says: “Men, however, have an advantage over them.” (Quran, 2:228). In this verse of Holy Quran man’s superiority is by virtue of his responsibility of protection and maintenance of woman and fulfillment of their rights. Nature has made the man stronger, more responsible and tolerant with reference to normal matters of life. So man is held superior to woman in the classification of responsibility.
In many occasions, Islam treats women equal to men. Some of them are mentioned below:
Equality in Basic Humanity: Both genders are equal in terms of humanity. Allah Almighty says in Holy Quran: “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women…” (Quran, 4:1) Allah depicted in the verse that He created both men and women from one single source. There is no difference between the two genders in terms of experience in humanity, and each correlates the other. Islam has eradicated and nullifies all the previous unjust laws that lower women as lesser in quality and nature.
Equality in Preservation of Honor and Nobility: Women have the same moral obligations and are designated to the same general rights as men in observing chastity, integrity and personal honor and respect. No double standards are allowed in Islam. Allah says in Holy Quran: “And those who accuse chaste women, and produce not four witnesses, flog them with eighty lashes, and reject their testimony forever. Indeed, they are those who are disobedient to Allah.” (Quran, 24:4)
Equality in Education: Islam entitles women to the same rights as men in terms of education. The Prophet (PBUH) said in his traditions: “Seeking knowledge is compulsory for each and every Muslim (i.e. both male and female).”(Ibn Majah)
Equality in Social Responsibilities: Men and women have similar obligations and responsibilities to improve and correct the society to the best of their skills. Allah says in Holy Quran: “The believers, men, and women, are helpers, supporters, friends, and protectors of one another, they enjoin all that is good, and forbid all that is evil, they offer their prayers perfectly, and give Zakat (Obligatory Charity) and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will bestow Mercy on them. Surely Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (Quran, 9:71)
Rights in Inheritance: Men and women have set and determined rights to receive their fair share of wealth. A woman has her fixed share of inheritance which was right unthinkable in many societies before Islam. Allah Almighty stated in Quran: “There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those closely related, and there is a share for women from what is left by parents and those closely related, whether the wealth is small or large: a legal mandatory share.” (Quran, 4:7)
Equality in Rewards and Punishments: Both males and females have similar rewards for obedience and punishment for disobedience in this world and the Hereafter. As stated by Allah (SWT) in the Noble Quran: “Whoever does righteous acts, whether male or female, while he is a believer, verily, to him We will give a good life, and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do.” (Quran, 16:97)
In short, Allah Almighty makes it clear from the verses of Holy Quran that men and women are equal. However, in some cases, a woman is not identical to man in her traits, gifts, and abilities. Men and women enjoy equal rights in all walks of life according to teachings of Islam.