Women in Islam

[Part 1] [Part 2] Part 3 [Part 4]

Sam Shamoun

Islam Condones Adultery, Rape and Pedophilia

Islam not only condoned a form of prostitution in the guise of marriage, it also permits other perverted sexual acts such as sex with minors and the rape of prisoners of war. We begin with the Quran’s teaching regarding marrying and divorcing prepubescent girls:

O Prophet, when you divorce women, divorce them when they have reached their period. Count the period, and fear God your Lord. Do not expel them from their houses, nor let them go forth, except when they commit a flagrant indecency. Those are God's bounds; whosoever trespasses the bounds of God has done wrong to himself. Thou knowest not, perchance after that God will bring something new to pass… As for your women who have despaired of further menstruating, if you are in doubt, their period shall be three months; and those who have not menstruated as yet. And those who are with child, their term is when they bring forth their burden. Whoso fears God, God will appoint for him, of His command, easiness. S. 65:1, 4 Arberry

The waiting period for the divorcing of women who haven’t even menstruated is three months. This means that these women aren’t even women (they haven’t attained womanhood) but are in fact young girls who haven’t even attained puberty! Now a woman can only be divorced if she was first married, so it is clear that this injunction assumes that young girls can be married and divorced and remarry before they reach puberty. Even more, the purpose of this waiting period is to ensure that the wife who is about to be divorced is not pregnant, or if she is to make sure that the true father is known, i.e. that the child is from the current husband, and not a next husband that she may marry afterwards. Thus, this verse presupposes that the Muslim men who are married to prepubescent girls have sexual intercourse with them.

The renowned Muslim commentator Abu-Ala’ Maududi, in his six volume commentary on the Quran, confirms this by stating the following regarding this passage:

"Therefore, making mention of the waiting-period for girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl at this age but it is permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Qur’an has held as permissible." (Maududi, volume 5, p. 620, note 13, emphasis added)

The collector of the so-called sound narrations, Imam al-Bukahri narrated:

Narrated Sahl bin Sad:
While we were sitting in the company of the Prophet a woman came to him and presented herself (for marriage) to him. The Prophet looked at her, lowering his eyes and raising them, but did not give a reply. One of his companions said, "Marry her to me O Allah's Apostle!" The Prophet asked (him), "Have you got anything?" He said, "I have got nothing." The Prophet said, "Not even an iron ring?" He said, "Not even an iron ring, but I will tear my garment into two halves and give her one half and keep the other half." The Prophet; said, "No. Do you know some of the Quran (by heart)?" He said, "Yes." The Prophet said, "Go, I have agreed to marry her to you with what you know of the Qur'an (as her Mahr)." 'And for those who have no courses (i.e. they are still immature). (65.4) And the 'Iddat for the girl BEFORE PUBERTY is three months (in the above Verse). (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 63; emphasis ours)

It is important to note that the Quran teaches that there is no waiting period for marriages that have not been consummated:

O you who believe: When you marry believing women and then divorce them before you have touched them, no period of idda (waiting) have you to count in respect of them: so give them a present and set them free in a graceful manner. S. 33:49

What this shows is that the waiting period only applies in the case of a prepubescent if her husband has actually slept with her. In other words, Islam is allowing men to have sex with minors, legally sanctioning pedophilia!

For further, detailed discussion of this issue, see An Examination of Muhammads Marriage to a Prepubescent Girl And Its Moral Implications.

Here is a reference permitting to rape captive women:

Also (prohibited are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess: Thus hath God ordained (Prohibitions) against you: Except for these, all others are lawful, provided ye seek (them in marriage) with gifts from your property, - desiring chastity, not lust, seeing that ye derive benefit from them, give them their dowers (at least) as prescribed; but if, after a dower is prescribed, agree Mutually (to vary it), there is no blame on you, and God is All-knowing, All-wise. S. 4:24 Y. Ali

The above passage emphatically allows for the raping of women that are taken captive, even if these captives happened to be married!

It did not remain an abstract theoretical right, but was readily put into practice by the Muslim jihadists:

Abu Sirma said to Abu Sa'id al Khadri (Allah he pleased with him): O Abu Sa'id, did you hear Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) mentioning al-'azl? He said: Yes, and added: We went out with Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) on the expedition to the Bi'l-Mustaliq and took captive some excellent Arab women; and we desired them, for we were suffering from the absence of our wives, (but at the same time) we also desired ransom for them. So we decided to have sexual intercourse with them but by observing 'azl (Withdrawing the male sexual organ before emission of semen to avoid conception). But we said: We are doing an act whereas Allah's Messenger is amongst us; why not ask him? So we asked Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him), and he said: It does not matter if you do not do it, for every soul that is to be born up to the Day of Resurrection will be born. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3371)

Abu Said al-Khudri said: The apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Quranic verse, ‘And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess’. That is to say, they are lawful for them when they complete their waiting period. (Sunan Abu Dawud, Volume 2, Number 2150)

Ibn Kathir wrote:

<except those whom your right hands possess>

except those women whom you acquire through war, for you are allowed such women after making sure they are not pregnant.

Imam Ahmad recorded that Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri said, "We captured some women from the area of Awtas who were already married, and we disliked having sexual relations with them because they already had husbands. So, we asked the Prophet about this matter, and this Ayah was revealed…

<Also (forbidden are) women already married, except those whom your right hands possess>.

Consequently, we had sexual relations with these women." This is the wording collected by AT-Tirmidhi, An-Nasa’i, Ibn Jarir and Muslim in his Sahih. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir (Abridged) Volume 2, Parts 3, 4 & 5 (Surat Al-Baqarah, Verse 253, to Surat An-Nisa, Verse 147), abridged by a group of scholars under the supervision of Shaykh Safiur-Rahman Al-Mubarakpuri [Darussalam Publishers & Distributors, Riyadh, Houston, New York, Lahore; First edition, March 2000], p. 422; bold emphasis ours)

The Holy Bible, however, prohibits the raping of captive women and condemns adultery completely. Note what God’s true Word says about the treatment of captive women:

"When you go to war against your enemies and the LORD your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her AS YOUR WIFE. Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her." Deuteronomy 21:10-14

M.G. Kline, considered one of the leading Old Testament theologians of the last century, wrote regarding God’s ruling in Deuteronomy 21:10-14:

Limits of a Husband's Authority. 21:10-14. This first of three stipulations concerned with the authority of the head of the household (cf. vv. 15-21) deals with the limits of the husband's authority over his wife. The case of a captive woman (vv. 10,11; cf. 20:14; contrast 7:3) is used as a case in point for establishing the rights of the wife, perhaps because the principle would obviously apply, a fortiori in the case of an Israelite wife. On the purificatory acts of verses 12b, 13a, which signified removal from captive-slave status, compare Lev. 14:8; Num. 8:7. On the month's mourning, see Num 20:29 and Deut 34:8. This period would provide for the achieving of inward composure for beginning a new life, as well as for an appropriate expression of filial piety. 14. Thou shalt not sell her. A wife might not be reduced to slave status, not even the wife who had been raised from slave status then thou shalt let her go whither she will. The severance of the marriage relationship is mentioned here only incidentally to the statement of the main principle that a man's authority did not extend to the right of reducing his wife to a slave. This dissolution of the marriage would have to be accomplished according to the laws of divorce in the theocracy (cf. Deut. 24:1-4). Not the divorce was mandatory, but the granting of freedom in case the man should determine to divorce his wife according to the permission granted by Moses because of the hardness of their hearts (cf. Matt 19:8). (Wycliff Bible Commentary [Oliphants Ltd.: London, 1963), p. 184)

The late chief rabbi of the British Empire, Chief Rabbi J. H. Hertz noted regarding this passage:

"A female war-captive was not to be made a concubine till after an interval of a month. The bitter moments of the captive's first grief had to be respected. She must not subsequently be sold or treated as a slave. 12. bring her home. This law inculcates thoughtfulness and forbearance under circumstances in which the warrior, elated by victory, might deem himself at liberty to act as he pleased (Driver). ‘After the countless rapes of conquered women with which recent history has made us so painfully familiar, it is like hearing soft music to read of the warrior's duty to the enemy woman, of the necessary marriage with its set ritual and its due delay. And the Legislator proceeds to trace the course of the husband's duty in the event of the conquered alien woman failing to bring him the expected delight. ‘Then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not deal with her as a slave, because thou hast humbled her'" (Zangwill)… 13. she shall be thy wife. And enjoy the full rights and duties of a Jewish wife; Exodus xxi, 10.14. no delight in her, i.e. no longer any delight in her. The Rabbis deemed such a marriage a concession to human weakness, as a preventive against worse manifestations of the unbridled passions of man...humbled her. Dishonored her." (Pentateuch & Haftorahs, edited by Dr. J H Hertz [The Soncino Press Limited: London, 1960], p. 840)

Thus, we can clearly see that the Holy Bible even dignified captive gentile women by elevating them to the same status as that of married Israelite women.

The problem, however, sits deeper. Two stories about Muhammad’s behavior from his own life will illustrate this.

Jabir reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw a woman, and so he came to his wife, Zainab, as she was tanning a leather and had sexual intercourse with her. He then went to his Companions and told them: The woman advances and retires in the shape of a devil, so when one of you sees a woman, he should come to his wife, for that will repel what he feels in his heart. (Sahih Muslim, Book 008, Number 3240)

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud

Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) saw a woman who charmed him, so he went to Sawdah who was making perfume in the company of some women. They left him, and after he had satisfied his desire he said, "If any man sees a woman who charms him he should go to his wife, for she has the same kind of thing as the other woman."

Darimi transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 927; ALIM CD-ROM Version)

Nobody has to have sexual intercourse immediately simply because a beautiful woman passes by. Human beings are not animals but can make a decision where to direct their thoughts and desires. Obviously, Muhammad did not only see a woman, but started to entertain lustful desires for her. The narrations imply that Muhammad became so aroused that he could not bear it anymore and needed to release the pressure immediately, in the middle of the day, interrupting the work his wife was doing, and even sending away visitors who were with his wife at the time. Muhammad committed adultery in his mind and then used the body of one of his wives to release the physical pressure resulting from these adulterous desires. He did not make love to his wife with the intention of making her happy and satisfied, but he simply "satisfied his desire" by using her "thing" while his mind was with the other woman. The fact that there exist at least two narrations about similar but distinct incidents suggests that this seems to have been a habit of his.

God’s true Word warns a person from lusting after another man’s wife:

"You shall not commit adultery… You shall not covet your neighbor's house; you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's." Exodus 20:14, 17

"And you shall not lie sexually with your neighbor's wife and so make yourself unclean with her." Leviticus 18:20

"If there is a man who commits adultery with another man's wife, one who commits adultery with his friend's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death." Leviticus 20:10

The Lord Jesus Christ warned his followers:

"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Matthew 5:27-28

Thus, Muhammad and his teachings come under the condemnation of the plain commandments of God’s true Word.

Had Muhammad instructed his followers to discipline their thought life, and not to lust after other women in the first place, things might have been very different.

The readers can see how these specific Muslim teachings once again further expose Islam’s degradation and humiliation of women. Both Allah and his messenger viewed women as little more than chattel which could be used, abused, raped and sold by Muslim men.

For more on these issues please read the following articles:


Women are ‘Awrah

Islam traditionally regards women as ‘awrah, a word which is used in the Quran:

Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands' fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers' sons or sisters' sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigour, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness (AAawrati). And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed. S. 24:30-31 Pickthall

O believers, let those your right hands own and those of you who have not reached puberty ask leave of you three times -- before the prayer of dawn, and when you put off your garments at the noon, and after the evening prayer -- three times of nakedness (AAawratin) for you. There is no fault in you or them, apart from these, that you go about one to the other. So God makes clear to you the signs; and God is All-knowing, All-wise. S. 24:58 Arberry

From the above we can gather that ‘awrah refers to a person’s nakedness which must be covered. In his explanation to Sura 24:58, the late Muslim translator Muhammad Asad defines the word as:

[Lit., "three [periods] of nakedness (thalath awrat) for you". This phrase is to be understood both literally and figuratively. Primarily, the term awrah signifies those parts of a mature person’s body which cannot in decency be exposed to any but one’s wife or husband or, in case of illness, one’s physician. In its tropical sense, it is also used to denote spiritual "nakedness", as well as situations and circumstances in which a person is entitled to absolute privacy. The number "three" used twice in this context is not, of course, enumerative or exclusive, but is obviously meant to stress the recurrent nature of the occasions on which even the most familiar members of the household, including husbands, wives and children, must respect that privacy.] (Source; bold emphasis ours)

What this essentially means is that a woman must entirely cover herself with the exception of the face and hands because her entire person is classified as indecent, as nudity, and therefore harmful to men to look at:

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "A woman should be concealed, for when she goes out the devil looks at her."

Tirmidhi transmitted it. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 928; ALIM CD-ROM Version)

Sunni write G.F. Haddad narrates a somewhat similar tradition which is related to this very censuring of women:

`Al was with the Prophet when the latter asked: "What is the best trait in women?" but no-one spoke. `Al said: "When I returned I asked Ft.ima and she replied: ‘THAT MEN DO NOT SEE THEM.’ I mentioned this to the Prophet and he said: ‘Truly, Ft.ima comes from me.’"

Narrated by al-Bazzr in his Musnad (2:159-160 #526) and by Ab Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 2:175) with a chain containing Qays ibn al-Rab` al-Asad who is "truthful" (s.adq) to "weak" (da'f) as in Tah.rr Taqrb al-Tahdhb (3:186 #5573) and `Al ibn Zayd who is weak. Cf. Ibn H.ajar, Mukhtas.ar (1:567 #1001), al-Haytham in Majma` al-Zaw'id (4:255; 9:203), and Kanz al-'Umml (#46012). However, the narration is also narrated from Anas through A STRONG CHAIN by al-Draqut.n in Su'lt H.amza (p. 280 #409) and Ab Nu`aym in the Hilya (1985 ed. 2:40-41) with the wording, "That they do not see men nor do men see them." (Haddad, A Narration on the Best Trait in Women; source; underline and capital emphasis ours)

Renowned Muslim scholar and philosopher Al-Ghazali wrote:

(1) If the husband wants to enjoy her body, she should not refuse. The Prophet said: If the wife of a man dies while he is pleased with her, she will enter Paradise. The Prophet said: When a woman prays five times a day, fasts the month of Ramazan, saves her private parts and obeys her husband, she will enter the Paradise of her Lord. The Prophet said about the women: They bear children, give birth to children and show affection to children. Even though they do not come to their husbands, they will enter Paradise if they pray. The Prophet said: I peeped into Hell and found that the majority of its inmates are women. It was asked: Why, O Messenger of God? He said: They take recourse to much curse and deny relatives. There is another Hadis: I peeped into Paradise and found that there are a few women there. I asked: Where are the women? He said: Two things of reddish colour stood as a stumbling block against them- gold and Zafran (ornaments and varied dresses). Once a girl came to the Prophet and asked: I don’t want to get married. The Prophet said: Yes, get married and it is better. A woman of Khasham tribe once came to the Prophet and asked him: I want to marry, but what are the rights of the husband? He said: When he wants her, she will not refuse it even though she remains on a camel’s back. She will not give anything of his house in charity without his permission. If she does it, she will commit a sin and her husband will get rewards. She will not keep optional fast without his permission. If she does it and becomes hungry and thirsty, it will not be accepted from her. If she goes out of his house without his permission, the angels curse him[sic] till she returns to his house or till she repents. The Prophet said: When a woman stays within her house, she becomes more near to God. Her prayer in the courtyard of her house is more meritorious than her prayer in mosque. Her prayer in a room is better than her prayer in her courtyard. The Prophet said: A woman is like a private part. When she comes out, the devil holds her high. He said: There are ten private parts of a woman. When she gets married, her husband keeps one private part covered; and when she dies, the grave covers other parts. The duties of a wife towards her husband are many, two out of them are essentially necessary. The first one is to preserve chastity and to keep secret the words of her husband and the second thing is not to demand unnecessary things and to refrain from unlawful wealth which her husband earns. (Imam Ghazali’s Ihya’ ‘Ulum-Ud-Din (The Revival of Religious Learnings) [Improved Edition], translated by Al-Haj Maulana Fazal-Ul-Karim [Sh. Muhammad Ahsraf Publishers, Booksellers & Exporters, Lahore-Pakistan, Reprinted 2000], "Secrets of Marriage", Book II, pp. 42-43; bold and underline emphasis ours)

A hadith in Ibn Majah also mentions Muhammad’s statement that women should be ready to sleep with their husbands on a camel’s saddle if they have to:

1853. 'Abdullah b. Abi 'Auta (Allah be pleased with him) is reported to have said that when Mu'adh (Allah be pleased with him) came from Syria, he prostrated before the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). He (the Holy Prophet) said, "O Mu'adh, what is it?" He replied, "I went to Syria and found them (the Syrians) prostrating before their archbishops and their emperors. I liked it in my heart that we should do so for you." Upon this, Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) remarked, "Don't do so. If I were to command anyone to prostrate before anyone besides Allah, I would have commanded the wife to prostrate before her spouse. By him in Whose Hand lies my life, a woman can not carry out the right of her Lord, till she carries out the right of her husband. And if he asks her to surrender herself (to him for sexual intercourse) she should not refuse him even if she is on a camel's saddle.

According to al-Zawa'id, Ibn Hibban transmitted it in his Sahih. Sandi said, "It is as if he means that it is hadith having good isnad." (Sunan Ibn-I-Majah, Volume III, Chapter IV, "Right Of The Husband Over The Wife", pp. 118-119; underline emphasis ours)

Others argue that even her hands and face should be covered. The following Salafi Muslims state:

The correct view is that a woman is obliged to cover her entire body, even the face and hands. Imam Ahmad said that even the nails of a woman are ‘awrah, and this is also the view of Maalik (may Allaah have mercy on them both). Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

"… It seems that the view of Ahmad is that every part of her is ‘awrah, even her nails, and this is also the view of Maalik."

(Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 22/110).

In contrast to those who say that this is not obligatory, if we examine the views of those who say that it is not obligatory for women to cover the face, we will see that it is as Shaykh Bakr Abu Zayd (may Allaah preserve him) said:

"One of the following three scenarios must apply:

1 – There is clear, sound evidence, but it has been abrogated by the verses that enjoin hijaab…

2 – There is sound evidence but it is not clear, and it does not constitute strong evidence when taken in conjunction with the definitive evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah that the face and hands must be covered…

3 – There is clear evidence, but it is not sound…"

(Hiraasat al-Fadeelah, p. 68-69)

With regard to the evidence that it is obligatory to cover the face and hands:

1 – Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful"

[al-Ahzaab 33:59]

Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

"Allaah commands women to let the jilbaab come down (over their faces) so that they will be known (as respectable women) and not be annoyed or disturbed. This evidence supports the first opinion. ‘Ubaydah al-Salmaani and others stated that the women used to wear the jilbaab coming down from the top of their heads in such a manner that nothing could be seen except their eyes, so that they could see where they were going. It was proven in al-Saheeh that the woman in ihraam is forbidden to wear the niqaab and gloves. This is what proves that the niqaab and gloves were known among women who were not in ihraam. This implies that they covered their faces and hands."

(Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 15/371-372)

… Ahmad said: the adornment which is apparent is the clothing. And he said: every part of a woman is ‘awrah, even her nails. It was narrated in the hadeeth, ‘The woman is ‘awrah,’ This includes all of the woman. It is not makrooh to cover the hands during prayer, so they are part of the ‘awrah, just like the feet. Analogy implies that the face would be ‘awrah were it not for the fact that necessity dictates that it should be uncovered during prayer, unlike the hands."

Sharh al-‘Umdah, 4/267-268.

… 6 – It was narrated from ‘Abd-Allaah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "The woman is ‘awrah and when she goes out the Shaytaan gets his hopes up."

(Narrated by al-Tirmidhi, 1173).

Al-Albaani said in Saheeh al-Tirmidhi (936): It is saheeh.

(Question #21536: Correct view on the ruling on covering the face; bold emphasis ours)


All of the woman’s body is ‘awrah and must be covered during prayer, except for her face, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "No prayer will be accepted from an adult woman unless she wears a khimaar (head-cover)." (Reported by the five Muhadditheen) There is some dispute as to whether her heels and feet should be covered. The author of al-Mughni (2/328) said: "As for the rest of the free woman’s body, it must be covered during prayer. If any part becomes uncovered, it renders her prayer invalid, except if only a little bit is uncovered. Maalik, al-Oozaa’i and al-Shaafi’i said the same. (Question #1106: Differences in Prayer for Men and Women)


Praise be to Allaah.

The free woman who has attained the age of majority is obliged to cover her entire body during prayer, apart from her face and hands, because all of her is ‘awrah. If she prays and any part of her ‘awrah becomes uncovered, such as a shin or foot or all or part of her head, then her prayer is invalid, because the Prophet said: "Allaah will not accept the prayer of a woman who has started to menstruate, except with a khimaar (covering)" (Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibn Maajah and al-Tirmidhi, with a saheeh isnaad)

Abu Dawud reported from Umm Salamah that she asked the Prophet about a woman who prayed wearing a dir’ (chemise or upper garment) and a khimaar (head cover), but no izaar (lower garment). He said: "The woman is ‘awrah."

As for the face, the Sunnah is to uncover it during prayer, so long as no non-mahram men are present. According to the majority of scholars, the feet must be covered; some scholars allow uncovering the feet but the majority say the opposite. Abu Dawud reported from Umm Salamah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that she was asked about a woman who prayed in a khimaar and qamees (dress or gown). She said, "There is nothing wrong with it if the dir’ (chemise) covers her feet." In any case, it is better to cover the feet, to be on the safe side. As far as the hands are concerned, there is more leeway: there is nothing wrong with either covering them or uncovering them, although some scholars think that it is better to cover them. And Allaah is the Source of strength. (Question #1046: Ruling concerning women covering their feet in prayer)

Because of this very degrading classification of women as ‘awrah which makes them dangerous to men, Muhammad condemned any female for putting on perfume:

Narrated AbuHurayrah

I heard my beloved friend AbulQasim saying: The prayer of a woman who has perfumed herself (to go) to the mosque is not accepted until she has bathed herself (as is done in case of janabah (after sexual intercourse).

Transmitted by AbuDawud and Ahmad and Nasa'i transmitted something similar. (Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 328; ALIM CD-ROM Version)

Narrated AbuMusa

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: Every eye is lustful and when a woman applies perfume and then goes about in an assembly, she is like such and such, i.e. an adulteress.

Transmitted by Tirmidhi and AbuDawud and Nasa’i transmitted something similar. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 330; ALIM CD-ROM Version)


In this section we will look at quotations from some additional Muslim sources that further degrade women, particularly sources that cite the views of scholars on some of the passages which were mentioned previously. We begin with the views of Ali ibn Abu Thalib, the fourth Muslim caliph who was both Muhammad's first cousin and his son-in-law. These comments are believed to be taken from some of his lectures that were then compiled together. Ali said regarding women:

O' ye peoples! Women are deficient in Faith, deficient in shares and deficient in intelligence. As regards the deficiency in their Faith, it is their abstention from prayers and fasting during their menstrual period. As regards deficiency in their intelligence it is because the evidence of two women equal to that of one man. As for the deficiency of their shares it is because of their inheritance being half of men. So beware of the evils of women. Be on your guard even from those who are (reportedly) good. Do not obey them EVEN IN GOOD THINGS so that they may not attract you to devils. (Nahjul Balagha-Peak of Eloquence, translated by Syed Ali Reza [Tahrike Tarsile Qur'an, Inc. Publishers and Distributors of Holy Qur'an, Elmhurst NY, sixth edition 1996], p. 204; bold and capital emphasis ours)

The translator's note states:

1. Amir al-mu'minun gave this sermon after the devastation created by the Battle of Jamal. Since the devastation resulting from this battle was the out-come of blindly following a woman's command, in this sermon he has described women's physical defects and their causes and effects. Thus their first weakness is that for a few days in every month they have to abstain from prayer and fasting, and this abstention from worship is a proof of their deficiency in Faith. Although the real meaning of 'Iman (belief) is heart-felt testification and inner conviction yet metaphorically it also applies to action and character. Since actions are the reflection of Belief they are also regarded as part of Belief. Thus, it is related from Imam 'Ali ibn Musa ar Rida (p.b.u.t.) that:

'Iman (belief) is testification at heart, admission by the tongue and action by the limbs. The second weakness is that their natural propensities do not admit of full performance of their intelligence. Therefore, nature has given them the power of intelligence only in accordance with the scope of their activities which can guide them in pregnancy, delivery, child nursing, child care and house-hold affair. On the basis of this weakness of mind and intelligence their evidence has not been accorded the status of man's evidence, AS ALLAH SAYS:

… then call to witness from among your men and if there not be two men then (take) a man AND TWO WOMEN, of those ye approve of the witnesses, so that should be one of the two (women) forget the (second) one of the two may remind the other… (Qur'an, 2:282)

The third weakness is that their share in inheritance is half of man's share in inheritance as the Qur'an says:

Allah enjoineth you about your children. The male shall have the equal of the shares of two females… (4:11)

This shows woman’s weakness because the reason for her share in inheritance being half is that the liability of her maintenance rests on man. When man's position is that of a maintenance and care taker the status of the weaker sex who is need of maintenance and care-taking is evident.

After describing their natural weakness as Amir al-mu'minin points out the mischiefs of blindly following them and wrongly obeying them. He says that not to say of bad things but even if they say in regard to some good things it should not be done in a way that these should feel as if it is being done in pursuance of their wish, but rather in a way that they should realize that the good act has been performed because of its being good and that their pleasure or wish has nothing to do with it. If they have even the doubt that their pleasures has been kept in view in it they would slowly increase in their demands and would wish that they should be obeyed in all matters however evil, the inevitable consequence whereof will be destruction and ruin. Ash-Shaykh Muhammad 'Abduh writes about this view of Amir al-muminin as under:

Amir al-muminin has said a thing which is corroborated by experiences of centuries. (Ibid., pp. 204-205; underline and capital emphasis ours)

Al-Ghazali writes:

(4) Don’t sport with wife so much that her conduct is ruined and fear goes out of her mind, but take to middle course. Don’t give up your duties and strike some sort of fear in her mind at the time of doing evils. Hazrat Omar said: Act opposite to women as there is blessing in opposing them. Some one said: Take advice from them but act to the contrary. The Prophet said: He who becomes a slave of women is ruined. He said for this reason that if a husband acts according to the wishes of his wife, he becomes her slave and is thus ruined as God has made him her master. The right of the husband is that the wife should follow him and the husband should not follow her. God termed the husbands as the maintainers of women and husbands as masters. God says: Both (Zulaikha and Joseph) found the master (husband) of Zulaikha near the door. Imam Shafeyi said: If you honour three kinds of men, they will disgrace you and if you disgrace them, they will honour you -WIFE, servant and Nabati. Evils AND LITTLE INTELLIGENCE are strong over them. The Prophet said: The example of a religious woman among general women is that of a crow with white belly among one hundred crows. The wise Luqman advised his son: O dear son, fear unchaste wife, as she will make you grow old before you grow old. Fear the harms of women as they do not call towards good. Beware of unchaste women. The Prophet said: Seek refuge to God from three calamities. An unchaste wife will make you old before you get old. In another narration-If you go to her, she will rebuke you. If you don’t go to her, she will be treacherous to you. When the Prophet fell seriously ill and could not come to the mosque for prayer, he said to Abu Bakr to lead the prayer, Hazrat Ayesha said: The mind of my father is soft. When he will find your place vacant, he will be perturbed. The Prophet said: When you prevent Abu Bakr to lead the prayer, you have swayed towards your low desires being misguided from the right path. When the wives of the Prophet disclosed the secret talks of the Prophet, God said: If both of you make repentance to God, he will unite your hearts. He said this regarding his good wives. The Prophet said: No nation prospers over whom a woman rules. (Ihya’ ‘Ulum-Ud-Din, Book II, pp. 32-33; bold, underline, and capital emphasis ours)

We conclude our discussion with comments taken from a Salafi Muslim website which provide the opinions of other writers and scholars to support the exegesis given in answer to specific questions. The main page to the website we will be using is www.islamqa.com.

Regarding whether Islam allows for women rulers, this Salafi site responds:

The evidence from the Qur’aan and Sunnah indicates that it is not permissible for a woman to assume positions of senior public authority, such as the caliph (khaleefah), minister of state (wazeer or vizier) or judge (qaadi) and so on.

1 – Evidence from the Qur’aan:

Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means"

[al-Nisa 4:34]

Al-Qurtubi said:

The words "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women" mean that they spend on them and protect them, and also that they (men) are the rulers and governors, and the ones who go on military campaigns, and none of these are the role of women.

Tafseer al-Qurtubi, 5/168.

Ibn Katheer said:

It means the man is in charge of the woman; he is her leader, the ruler over her WHO DISCIPLINES HER if she goes astray.

"because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other" means, because men are superior to woman, and a man IS BETTER THAN A WOMAN. Hence Prophethood was given ONLY TO MEN, as is the role of caliph, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them."

Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/492.

2 –Evidence from the Sunnah:

It was narrated that Abu Bakrah said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Chosroes as their queen, he said, "No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them."

Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4163.

Al-Shawkaani said in Nayl al-Awtaar, 8/305:

This indicates that women ARE NOT QUALIFIED TO RULE, and it is not permissible for people to appoint them as rulers, because they must avoid that which will cause them not to prosper.

Al-Maawirdi said, in the context of his discussion of the position of wazeer:

It is not permissible for a woman to play this role, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, "No people will prosper if they delegate their affairs to a woman." And because these positions require wisdom and resolve, WHICH WOMEN MAY BE LACKING IN, and requires appearing in public to handle matters directly, which is haraam for them to do.

Al-Ahkaam al-Sultaaniyyah, p. 46…

Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked the following question:

What is the Islamic view on a woman being nominated as a candidate for the position of head of state, or head of a government, or a public ministry?

He replied:

It is not permissible to appoint or elect a woman as head of state. This is indicated by the Qur’aan, Sunnah and scholarly consensus. In the Qur’aan, Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other…"

[al-Nisa 4:34]

The ruling in the verse is general and includes a man’s position of leadership in his family, and applies more so to his position of public leadership. This ruling is supported by the reason given in the verse itself, WHICH IS MEN’S INTELLECTUAL SUPERIORITY AND BETTER UNDERSTANDING etc, which are basic qualifications for leadership…

The ummah unanimously agreed in practical terms at the time of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the imams of the first three generations, which the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) testified were the best of generations, THAT WOMEN SHOULD NOT BE APPOINTED AS GOVERNORS OR JUDGES. There were women who were brilliant in religious knowledge, to whom scholars would refer concerning knowledge of Qur’aan, hadeeth and religious rulings, but no woman aspired to positions of public leadership during that time or any other position of that nature. The shar’i responsibilities of such positions cannot be carried out by women, because that involves travelling to the provinces, and mixing with the members of the ummah, and meeting with them, and leading the army sometimes in jihad, and negotiating with the enemy, and accepting oaths of allegiance from members of the ummah, and meeting with them, men and women, at times of war and peace, and so on. This is not appropriate for a woman, and it goes against the rulings of sharee’ah that are established to protect her and keep her safe from having to go out and mix in such a manner.

Rationally speaking, women should not be given positions of public office, because what is required of the one who is chosen for such a position is that he should a man of great resolve, determination, smartness, will power and good management skills. THESE CHARACTERISTICS ARE LACKING IN WOMEN BECAUSE THEY HAVE BEEN CREATED WITH WEAKNESS IN THEIR INTELLECT AND THINKING, and with strong emotions, so electing them to such positions is not in the interests of the Muslims and does not help them to achieve greatness.

And Allaah is the source of strength. May Allaah send blessings and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon his family and companions.

Majallat al-Mujtama’, issue no. 890.

And Allaah knows best.

Islam Q&A (www.islam-qa.com)

(Question #20677: Is it permissible in Islamic sharee’ah for a woman to be a ruler?; capital and underline emphasis ours)

They respond to a similar question asked by a different individual:

This is because positions of leadership and government require a person to join men's gatherings, which is not allowed for women according to sharee'ah because of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): "And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance." [al-Ahzaab 33:33]. These positions also require perfect wisdom, reason and alertness, and the testimony of a man has been made equal to that of two women, the reason for which Allaah has explained in the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): "... so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her." [al-Baqarah 2:282].

Imaam al-Muwaffaq Ibn Qudaamah said:

"For this reason the Prophet SAWS (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and his successors (khulafa') and those who came after them never appointed a woman to be a judge or a governor of a province, as far as we know. If it were permissible, it should have happened."

Imaam al-Ghazaali said:

"The position of leader (imaam) could never be given to a woman even if she possessed all the qualities of perfection and self-reliance. How could a woman take the position of leader when she did not have the right to be a judge or a witness under most of the historical governments?"

Imaam al-Baghawi said:

"The scholars agreed that women are not fit to be leaders or judges, because the leader needs to go out to organize jihaad and take care of the Muslims’ affairs, and the judge needs to go out to judge between people, but women are 'awrah and it is not right for them to go out. Because of their weakness, women are not able to do many things. Women are imperfect, and the positions of leaders and judge are among the most perfect of positions for which only the most perfect of men are qualified." (Question #3285: Ruling on appointing women to positions of high public office; bold emphasis ours)

Their opinion is not an isolated one, but one found throughout the hadith literature:

Narrated AbuHurayrah
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said, "When your commanders are your best people, your rich men are your generous people and your affairs are conducted by mutual consultation, the surface of the earth will be better for you that its interior. But when your commanders are your worst people, your rich men are your niggardly people and your affairs are in the hands of your women, the interior of the earth will be the better for you than its surface." Tirmidhi transmitted it, saying this is a gharib tradition. (Al-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 1439- ALIM CD-ROM Version)

On the issue of whether men and women are equal in Islam, these Salafis unashamedly quote Ibn Kathir’s comments on Sura 2:282 and claim:

Ibn Katheer said:

Two women are to take the place of one man because women are lacking in reason, as Muslim narrated in his Saheeh from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: "O women, give in charity and seek forgiveness a great deal, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell." A wise woman among them said, "Why is it, O Messenger of Allaah, that we are the majority of the people of Hell?" He said, "Because you curse too much, and you are ungrateful to your spouses. I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (at the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you." The woman asked: "O Messenger of Allaah, what is wrong with our common sense and our religion?" He said: "Your lack of common sense (can be well judged from the fact) that the evidence of two women is equal to that of one man, that is a proof of the lack of common sense, and you spend some nights (and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month of Ramadan (during the days) you do not observe fast, that is a failing in religion."

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/336)

There may be some women who are wiser than some men, but this is not the usual rule and such women are not in the majority. Sharee'ah is based on what is general and most common...

The fact that women are lacking in reason does not mean that they are crazy, rather their reason is often overtaken by their emotions, and this happens to women more often than it happens to men. No one would deny this except one who is arrogant.

They also quote Ibn Kathir on Sura 4:34:

Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

"Allaah says 'Men are the protectors and maintainers of women' meaning that the man is in charge of the woman, i.e., he is the leader and head of the household, the one who disciplines her if she goes astray.

'because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other' i.e., because men are superior to women and are better than women. Hence Prophethood was given only to men, as was the position of khaleefah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, 'No people shall ever prosper who appoint a woman as their ruler.' This was narrated by al-Bukhaari from the hadeeth of 'Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Abi Bakrah from his father. The same applies to the position of qaadi (judge), etc.

'and because they spend (to support them) from their means' refers to the mahr and the spending on women's maintenance that Allaah has enjoined upon men in His Book and in the Sunnah of His Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). SO A MAN IS INHERENTLY BETTER THAN A WOMAN, and he is superior to her because he spends on her. So it is appropriate that he should be in charge of her, as Allaah says, 'but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them' [al-Baqarah 2:228].

'Ali ibn Abi Talhah said, narrating from Ibn 'Abbaas: 'Men are the protectors and maintainers of women' means that men are the leaders of women and they should obey them in areas where Allaah has enjoined obedience. Obedience may mean treating his family kindly and protecting his wealth."

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 1/490)

They don’t stop there:

There are other differences between the sexes, including the following:

Everything that we have mentioned is based on the difference between men and women, because the male is not like the female. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

"And the male is not like the female"

[Aal 'Imraan 3:36] ...

And men are different in intellectual terms, for men are known for their strength of understanding and their memory as compared to women. Women are weaker than men in memory and forget more than men do. This is well known, for most of the reputable scholars in the world are men. There are some women who are more intelligent and have better memories than some men, but this does not cancel out the general rule. Most cases are as we have described above...

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid (www.islam-qa.com)
(Question #1105: Does Islam regard men and women as equal?; bold, capital and underline emphasis ours)

Here, also, are their quotations from al-Baghawi, and al-Baidawi regarding Sura 4:34:

Al-Baghawi said in his Tafseer (2/206): "because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other' means, men excel women BECAUSE THEY HAVE MORE POWERS OF REASON and religious commitment and they are in charge of affairs. And it was said that this refers to giving testimony, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 'And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women' [al-Baqarah 2:282]. And it was said that it refers to jihad, or to worship i.e., Jumu'ah and prayers in congregation, or that it refers to the fact that a man may marry four wives, but a woman is not permitted more than one husband; or the fact that divorce is in the man's hand; or that it refers to inheritance, or to diyah (blood money), or to Prophethood."

Al-Baydaawi said in his Tafseer (2/184): "'Men are the protectors and maintainers of women' means that they are in charge of them and take care of them. He gave two reasons for that, one that is INHERENT IN THEM and one that is acquired subsequently, and said: 'because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other', because Allaah has favoured men over women by making men MORE PERFECT IN REASONING and running affairs, and has given them more strength with regard to work and acts of worship. Hence men are singled out when it comes to Prophethood, leadership, guardianship, establishing rituals, giving testimony in legal matters, the obligation to engage in jihad and pray Jumu'ah, and so on, and they are given a greater share of inheritance, and divorce is in the man's hand. ‘and because they spend (to support them) from their means’ refers to what they spend with regard to marriage, such as the mahr and maintenance, etc." …

(Question #43252: The reason why the husband is regarded as superior and is given the role of qawwaam (protector and maintainer); underline and capital emphasis ours)

They are not quite finished:

Allaah has commanded the testimony of two women so as to be sure that they remember, because the mind and memory of two women takes the place of the mind and memory of one man. (See I'laam al-Muwaqqa'een, part 1, p. 75).

This does not mean that a woman does not understand or that she cannot remember things, but she is weaker than man in these aspects - usually. Scientific and specialized studies have shown that men's minds ARE MORE PERFECT THAN THOSE OF WOMEN, and reality and experience bear witness to that. The books of knowledge are the best witness to that; the knowledge which has been transmitted by men and the ahaadeeth which have been memorized by men far outnumber those which have come via women.

This has to do with gender, i.e., the gender of men IS MORE PERFECT than the gender of women...

Nevertheless, there are some women who are far superior to men in their reason and insight, but they are few, and the ruling is based on the majority and the usual cases...

Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid (www.islam-qa.com)
(Question #20051: Why is the witness of one man considered to be equal to the witness of two women?; bold, underline and capital emphasis ours)

We come to the conclusion of our analysis of the authentic view of women in Islam. If someone can read through all this massive amount of evidence and still conclude that Islam honors and dignifies women, then there is really nothing more that a person could say.

Further Reading


Women in Islam and Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page