As what kind of entity does Islam envisage Woman? Does it consider her the equal of man in terms of dignity and the respect accorded to her or is she thought of as belonging to an inferior species? This is the question which we now wish to answer.
The particular philosophy of Islam concerning family rights:
Islam has a particular philosophy concerning the family rights of men and women which is contrary to what has been going on in the last fourteen centuries and with what is actually happening now. Islam does not believe in one kind of right one kind of duty and one kind of punishment for both men and women in every instance.
It considers one set of rights and duties and punishments more appropriate for men and one set more appropriate for women. As a result on some occasions Islam has taken a similar position as regards both women and men and on other occasions different positions.
Why is that so and what is its basis? Is that why Islam also like many other religions has derogatory views concerning women and has considered woman to be of an inferior species or does it have some other reasons and another philosophy?
You may have heard repeatedly in the speeches lectures and writings of the followers of western ideas that they consider Islamic laws concerning dowry maintenance divorce and polygyny and other laws like them as being contemptuous of and insulting to the female sex. In this way they try to create the impression that those provisions only prove that man alone has been favored.
They say that all the rules and laws in the world before the twentieth century were based upon the notion that man due to his sex is a nobler being than woman and that woman was created simply for the benefit and use of man. Islamic rights also revolve in this same orbit of man’s interest and benefit.
They say that Islam is a religion for men that it has not an acknowledged woman to be a complete human being and that it has not ordained laws for her which are necessary for a human being. Had Islam gauged woman to be a complete human being it would not have provided for polygyny it would not have given the right of divorce to man it would not have made the witnessing of two women equivalent to that of one man it would not have given leadership of the family to the husband it would not have made a woman’s inheritance one half of the inheritance of a man it would not have countenanced that a woman be ‘priced’ in the name of a dowry it would not have provided for her economic and social independence and it would not have made her a ‘pensioner’ of man who is obliged to ‘keep’ her. From the aforesaid thing they say it is inferred that Islam has humiliating views about woman and has taken her to be just a means to procreating more people and a necessary prerequisite for that. They add that although Islam is a religion of equality and has maintained real equality in other situations in the case of woman and man it did not observe it.
They say that Islam has provided discriminative and preferential rights for men. If it did not have in view discriminative and preferential rights for men it would not have ordained the above laws.
If we resolve the argument of these gentlemen into an Aristotelian logical pattern it would have the following form:
If Islam had considered woman a complete human being it would have ordained equal and similar rights for her but it has not ordained equal and similar rights for her. Therefore it does not consider a woman a complete human being.
To be continued …
* A book named: The Rights of Women in Islam. By: Ayatullah Morteza Motahari