Women’s Rights: True Emancipation through the Teachings of Islam

August 17, 2021

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Women’s Rights: True Emancipation through the Teachings of Islam

Official English translation of the speech delivered in the ladies’ session of Jalsa Salana UK 2021, by the worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul-Masih V.

This translation was prepared by Al Hakam and originally published in Al Hakam | Friday 13 August 2021 | Issue CLXXVIII. The original post can be found here.

1. Superficial Freedom and Enlightenment

Nowadays, in the name of open-mindedness and freedom of expression and action, such an ideology has taken root that is less enlightened and more prone to lead to darkness. It is a concept that is inauthentic and superficial, whose pros and cons have not been considered in the slightest. 

There is more harm to some elements of this so-called freedom and enlightenment than there are benefits. It is not even being considered that in the name of enlightenment and freedom of thought and expression, we are compromising the future of the next generation and leading ourselves to the pit of darkness and also pushing our next generation towards it.

It is not even being considered that in the name of enlightenment and freedom of thought and expression, we are compromising the future of the next generation and leading ourselves to the pit of darkness and also pushing our next generation towards it.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat’ul Masih V,

This so-called freedom is being exploited and spread unjustly through social media to such an extent that the ability to think about the destruction we are calling on has become completely redundant. Nevertheless, when looking from a worldly perspective, if worldly people – whether it is with good intentions, although there are rarely good intentions – wish to eliminate certain wrongdoings altogether or wish to save themselves from it, it is found that they become engaged in other wrongs. The reason is that their spiritual eye becomes blind. And nowadays, materialism and a detachment from religion have caused people to despise religion so much that no one wishes to see it from a religious point of view. Against Islam, there is wide condemnation. Islam is made a target for criticism and its teachings are labelled as old and backward, which have no place in the progressive world of today. This is what is said about Islam.

2. Islam has Safeguarded Women’s Rights

Whereas the fact is that it is the religion of Islam that presents such teaching that addresses the rights of everyone. It addresses freedom of thought and expression and mentions limits and regulations for everyone. To maintain a balance, it also provides guidance. 

In the final address of the 2019 Jalsa, I mentioned the rights of various groups of people in Islam. And while mentioning them, I outlined how Islam provides rights. Insha’Allah [God Willing], at some point in the future, I shall present other examples also. However, at this juncture, I wish to talk with respect to women. 

Usually, Islam is criticised for not offering liberty to women. However, this proves one’s lack of knowledge of Islamic teachings, or that it is a criticism for the sake of criticism. 

Lady Justice, an allegorical personification of justice

The basic principle of Islam’s beautiful teachings is that one should not focus on fighting for their own rights; rather, in society, if we wish to create an environment of peace and tranquillity, then we must also focus on fulfilling the rights of others and pay heed to fulfilling the rights that are assigned to each and every one of us. Only then can a spirit of true peace and harmony be established, which covers the rights of every group of people, while also addressing their responsibilities. 

Women have not just been told to fight for their rights; rather, they have been told to understand their status and have been provided guidance on how to safeguard themselves from wrongs. 

These are the comprehensive teachings that, in reality, are a guarantor for establishing freedom of expression and action and the rights of every group. Thus, there is no other religious teaching that can compete with these teachings, nor can any worldly teachings or laws challenge it.  As I mentioned, at this juncture, I will talk about this topic with respect to women, which will explain the status afforded to women in Islam and their rights.

3. Islam versus other Religions and Laws

Allah the Exalted has, in many places, issued commandments regarding women. Their practical implementation has been shown in the life of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – how the Holy Prophet (sa) established respect for women. Then, in this day and age, we have seen how the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, drew our attention to establishing respect and regard for women. 

After taking into account what has been explained in the Holy Quran regarding the rights associated with women, how the Holy Prophet’s (sa) example and guidance explained them, how the Promised Messiah (as) explained them and in light of his sayings, how the Khulafa described them, even after hearing what Islam’s opponents have to say, there is no reason for any Ahmadi woman to think that, na‘udhu billah [God forbid], Islam has not taken into consideration the rights of women. 

Hazrat Mirza Bashiruddin Mahmud ahmad (ra), the ‘musleh maud’ and second caliph of the ahmadiyya muslim community

Hazrat Musleh-e-Maud (second Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) may Allah be pleased with him, in the commentary of Surah al-Kauthar, has mentioned the rights given to women by Islam. In light of the Holy Quran, he made it very clear that the rights given to women by Islam were not provided by any other religious law before it; rather, it should be said that they were absent in all worldly laws. And the Holy Quran not only grants the entitlements of women, but they are so strongly emphasised that an entire avenue of knowledge has been opened up as a result of it – new observations are made as a result.  The Holy Prophet (sa) selected such verses to be recited during the nikah [marriage registration] between a man and a woman, which clarify the importance of the rights of women.

4. Women are Similar to Men, not Lesser and Inferior

Allah the Almighty says:

یٰۤاَیُّہَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوۡا رَبَّکُمُ الَّذِیۡ خَلَقَکُمۡ مِّنۡ نَّفۡسٍ وَّاحِدَۃٍ وَّخَلَقَ مِنۡہَا زَوۡجَہَا وَبَثَّ مِنۡہُمَا رِجَالًا کَثِیۡرًا وَّنِسَآءً ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰہَ الَّذِیۡ تَسَآءَلُوۡنَ بِہٖ وَالۡاَرۡحَامَ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ کَانَ عَلَیۡکُمۡ رَقِیۡبًا

“O ye people! Fear your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created therefrom its mate, and from the two spread many men and women; and fear Allah, in Whose name you appeal to one another, and [fear Him particularly respecting] ties of relationship. Verily, Allah watches over you.”

Holy Quran 4:2

Thus, it becomes clear that men and women have been created from one being; that is, they have been made from one entity. Although there are different genders – a man and a woman – they are the same kind. Both have similar emotions – if a man possesses a mental ability, or has a certain skill, then a woman can possess it too. If a man has emotions, then so too do women. Both possess similar sentiments – if a man has sentiments, then women too have sentiments.

At the start of the nikah [marriage registration], it has been explained what the importance of women’s rights is. Men are told not to think that women have no intelligence and that men can reign over them as they wish. Women have emotions and sentiments and can think for themselves. Therefore, women should be considered similar to men and not lesser and inferior.

5. Women should be Consulted

Then, the Holy Prophet (sa) also said that in some important matters, women should be consulted. He too would seek counsel from women. 

Once, when Hazrat Umar’s (ra) wife gave him some advice on a particular matter, Hazrat Umar (ra) said, “Who are you to interfere?” She was there, listening to the conversation and shared her view. His wife replied, “Let it be! Those days are long gone when we had no rights. Don’t try to intimidate me! Those days are no more. Now, the Holy Prophet (sa) too seeks counsel from his wives. Who are you to stop me?”

Thus, the Holy Prophet (sa) laid so much emphasis on the rights of women that women also realised that they were not inferior to men. 

Through some incidents of the life of Hazrat Umar (ra), it becomes evident that when he issued instructions, sometimes, women would outright say, “How can you instruct this? The Holy Prophet (sa) said it like this.” That is, what he was saying was quite different to what the Holy Prophet (sa) said.

Nonetheless, irrespective of whether it was correct for the women to respond like this or not, whether the women were in the right or Hazrat Umar (ra) was interpreting it correctly, it becomes clear that women have been given the right to express their views in collective matters. And there is so much emphasis on this that no other parallel can be drawn in any other religion.

6. Increasing Knowledge means Increased Power for Women

It should be made clear here that the women of that time would aspire to seek religious knowledge and they would indeed acquire that knowledge. It was only because of this that they were able to say, with reference to the Holy Prophet (sa), that he said it in such and such manner. 

Therefore, Ahmadi women should pay attention to this too – instead of talking about being given rights, they should endeavour to increase their religious knowledge and excel in it. They should also train their children in this manner. They should not just encourage their children to seek secular knowledge only.

The qur’an emphasises education for women as well as men

It is only the Holy Quran and religious knowledge that will enable you to answer those who, nowadays, raise allegations against or mock religion. Remember that in the name of freedom and in the name of women’s rights, it is the plot of the Dajjal [Antichrist] to steer the younger generation away from religion, to create enmity in the coming generations for Islam’s teachings, or to suggest that Islam’s teachings should be reformed according to the modern-day and that their rights should be borne in mind. Those that steer people away from religion attempt to do so by showing sympathy – you should always remember this. Therefore, we must be careful.

7. A Dangerous Scheme against Women

To safeguard ourselves from Satanic onslaughts; rather, to counter their allegations, you must prepare yourselves rather than be influenced. Tell such people, “What is this opposition of yours against Islam? The respect and protection provided to women by Islam is not present in any other religion, nor in any worldly law. What you deem to be freedom is what destroys the sanctity and modesty of women.” 

Even among worldly people, some have written that the men who raise a hue and cry about the emancipation of women only wish to satisfy their own interests and indecent desires – they have no sympathy for women. Many columnists of newspapers have written so; in fact, one of them has written about this openly. This is only for their own benefit and not for the benefit of women. Such men do not necessarily talk in favour of women; rather, they only speak out for their own gains. This must push us to be more alert and vigilant.

Ahmadi women are fortunate that they have accepted the Imam of the age, who shed light on the beautiful teachings of Islam related to every matter.

8. Fulfilling Women’s Rights is a Requirement for Reaching God

Regarding the rights of women, the Promised Messiah (as) says: 

“The manner in which Islam has safeguarded the rights of women, certainly no other religion has done so. In a few words, Allah has said: “And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men)”.

“That is, as women have rights due to men, similarly men have rights due to women. It is often heard regarding some people that they see these helpless girls as nothing more than a pair of shoes and have them perform humiliating acts and verbally abuse them. They view them with contempt and use the commandment of purdah so unlawfully as if to bury them alive.” It is as if they have buried them alive.

“Husbands should treat their wives in such a manner as though they are two close and warm friends. The first witness to a person’s high morals and relationship with God Almighty are these very women. If their relationship is not cordial with them, then how is it possible for them to be at one with God Almighty?

“The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has said: ‘The best among you is the one who is best [in conduct] to his family.’”

Malfuzat [Urdu], Vol. 3, pp. 300-301; Al Badr, Vol. 2, no. 18, p. 137, 22 May 1903; Al Hakam, Vol. 7, no. 18, p. 12, 17 May 1903

Very clearly has the Promised Messiah (as) said that in terms of rights, both [men and women] are the same. How grand is this statement, that in favour of women, if men do not have a good relationship with women, then it is not possible to be at one with God either. Man is compelled in that to please the Almighty Allah, he must fulfill the rights of women.

Hazrat Mirza ghulam ahmad (as), the promised messiah and imam mahdi

9. Violating Women’s Rights leads to the Displeasure of God

Allah the Almighty also says this in the verse I presented at the outset, that women and men – in terms of intellect, sentiments, emotions and rights – are equal. And this verse is recited at the start of the nikah [marriage registration] sermon. Upon reading this, man’s thinking is also corrected, that “if you feel any superiority [over women], then you should shun such a thought.” And women have been comforted that “the protection of your rights has been declared by God Almighty.” If someone doesn’t fulfil their rights in like manner, then they shall succumb to the grip of Allah, which every mo‘min [believer] should always fear. It is a different thing altogether for one who is weak in faith or not a mo‘min, but if one is a true mo‘min, then they should be very fearful.

10. The Secret for a Successful Marriage

The relationship with a close friend is a very strong relationship. The Promised Messiah (as) has said that such a bond should be made [in a marriage].

In this liberal society, it is said that people develop a friendship and understanding first, then take the relationship further. At the beginning of marriage, a husband and wife form a friendship and say, “We are very good friends.” Eventually, however, it results in that friendship coming to an end, which leads to separation. It is incorrect to say that love marriages and marriage after having made a connection with someone will last longer. Their own statistics – the facts and figures – suggest otherwise, that marriages settled following a mutual understanding tend to fail more. If one is a true mo‘min or mo‘minah [female believer], then even if they do not know each other [before marriage], for the sake of Allah, they will both maintain their relationship in a way that becomes a means of attracting the pleasure of Allah.

If one is a true mo‘min or mo‘minah [female believer], then even if they do not know each other [before marriage], for the sake of Allah, they will both maintain their relationship in a way that becomes a means of attracting the pleasure of Allah.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat’ul Masih V

11. Women’s Consent is Required for Marriage

Having said that, it is not necessary for a girl to accept a rishta [proposed match] suggested by your parents. Women are granted the right in Islam that without her consent, her marriage cannot be settled. 

Women are granted the right in Islam that without her consent, her marriage cannot be settled…Islam has gone so far as to say that if a marriage is settled against the will of the girl, then it is invalid and improper.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat’ul Masih V

If one observes the time before Islam, one learns that wherever parents decided for a girl to be married, it would be settled there. Even today, in underprivileged and developing countries, girls are pressured by their parents to marry certain boys. Even after migrating to the developed world, some parents follow such ignorant practices and say that only with their consent and in their family can the girl be married, otherwise she has to endure extremely harsh treatment. The correct method is for parents to pray and then express their desire; however, they cannot force their daughter. 

If someone says that Muslims practice this, then this is the fault of those who impose their decision and not the fault of Islam’s teachings. Islam has gone so far as to say that if a marriage is settled against the will of the girl, then it is invalid and improper. (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Nikah, Bab La yankihu al-ab wa ghairuhu al-Bakr wa al-Thayb illa bi-radhaha, Beirut Dar Ibn Kathir al-Yamamah [1974]) (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Nikah, Bab Isti‘dhan Al-Thayb fil-nikah bil-nutq wa al-Bakr bil-sakoot, Beirut Dar Ihya al-Turath al-Arabiyy)

This is a great right, which the Holy Quran and Islam have afforded to women, something that was erstwhile inconceivable.

12. Holding Husbands to Account

The Promised Messiah (as) said that the relationship of a husband and wife is such that they are confidants of each other and in this way, the wife is a witness to many things related to the husband. Then, the wife observes her husband’s qualities and flaws closely. If a man does not fulfill his responsibilities and the rights of his wife that have been given by God Almighty, according to the teachings of Islam, then one day, his wife can stand before him and say to such a flawed husband – and indeed, she would say it as she has the right to – “First, mend your own ways, then tell me what to do.”

Usually, disputes in households are based on when men wish to dominate over their households like cruel dictators and usurp rights. Then, he has to face the criticism of his wife for his conduct.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat’ul Masih V

Usually, disputes in households are based on when men wish to dominate over their households like cruel dictators and usurp rights. Then, he has to face the criticism of his wife for his conduct. Therefore, to uphold the rights of the wife and to create an air of tranquillity at home and to maintain it, the Holy Prophet’s (sa) golden instruction is, “The best among you is the one who is good [in conduct] to his family.” How great are the rights given to women by Islam!

husbands must remember that their wives are the primary witnesses of their lives

13. The Right to Live in a Separate House

Then, Islam has also given the right of a separate house to women. People raise some objections to this. In today’s society – whether it is Asian, Pakistani or Indian societies – disputes arise due to the girl living in the same house as her in-laws and as a result of petty quarrels arising between them. These then escalate to disagreements between the husband and wife, which then leads to separation.

The wife has the right to express her desire to live separately [from her in-laws] and only aside from extremely compelling circumstances are men told to fulfill this request. A girl should not be forced to live with her in-laws. If financial means permit, then the husband and wife should move out. And if they are financially unable to move out, then they should try so that whenever they are financially able, they may move.

14. The Right for Dowry and Owning Property

A woman has also been prescribed haq mahr [dowry] as her property and money so that she may have free rein over it and that it may be solely in her custody – she is given a portion of property. 

In today’s so-called progressive world, women are given the right of property and inheritance; however, this was given only 100-150 years ago, whereas Islam provided this right 1,500 years ago. 

Previously, it was customary that after marriage, a woman’s property was not considered her property. If a woman earned property by whatever means before her marriage, then after marriage, the property would cease to remain hers. Some people would deliberately marry women with property and then after marriage, take full control of her property, thereby becoming the husband’s property after marriage.

Islam declared the property of the woman as hers and gave her so much freedom that the Companions (ra) at the time thought that it was perhaps not permissible for men to spend or purchase something from the wealth of their wives, even with their permission.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat’ul Masih V

However, very early on, Islam declared the property of the woman as hers and gave her so much freedom that the Companions (ra) at the time thought that it was perhaps not permissible for men to spend or purchase something from the wealth of their wives, even with their permission. Even if their wives gave money, they would not accept it – so careful were the Companions (ra) in this regard. The Companions (ra) would refrain from this until Islam’s teachings declared that they could accept any gift happily given by their wives and spend it on themselves – if a wife offers a gift, then you may accept it and such strictness is not necessary. (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.5)

15. The Right for Education

Then, Islam has promoted the education of girls to the extent that it has instructed that whoever has two daughters and conducts their tarbiyat [moral training] then God Almighty forgives such a person’s sins. (Sunan Ibn Majah, Kitab al-Adab, Bab Birr al-walid wa al-ihsan ila al-banati, hadith no. 3670)

A poor woman once visited Hazrat Aisha (ra) and asked for something to eat. She had two daughters with her, both of whom she sat either side of her. Apart from a date, Hazrat Aisha (ra) had nothing at home. Thus, she gave that lady the date. The lady put the date in her mouth, divided it into two pieces and gave one half to each daughter, while she remained hungry herself. (Jami‘ al-Tirmidhi, Kitab al-birr wa al-silah an Rasulillah, Bab ma ja‘a fil-nafaqati alal-banaati wa al-akhawaat, hadith no. 1915)

While this denotes the sacrifice of a mother for the sake of her children, the Holy Prophet (sa) said something beautiful in this regard. When the Holy Prophet (sa) was informed of this incident, he said, “Whoever has two daughters and performs their tarbiyat [moral training] in a decent manner and offers them education, then Allah makes a place for them in Heaven – Allah shall make a place for that lady in Heaven.” 

16. Seeking Education Leads to Paradise

It is not necessary for girls to seek education for the sake of an occupation; rather, a woman’s education is integral for the tarbiyat [moral training] and education of the next generation. To acquire a skill or education in any field and then find a job and pursue an occupation in that field is not incorrect, but for the sake of bringing up the next generation, if a woman seeks education, then Paradise will be her destiny.

17. Paradise under Mothers’ Feet

In another hadith, this is mentioned like so: “Paradise lies under the feet of mothers” – that is, the impeccable tarbiyat [moral training] and education of children will not only be a means of attaining Paradise for mothers, but can also become a means of her children attaining Paradise. How great an honour and how high a status is this that has been afforded to women and not men! In fact, the regard for women has been highlighted even further than this.

18. A Woman Can Rank Higher than Man

Thus, a pious and mo‘minah [female believer] woman has the potential to attain a rank much higher than that of a man. If Muslim women excel in pious deeds, are well-educated, morally trained, conduct the tarbiyat [moral training] of their children in light of the correct Islamic teachings, then the next generation, which will have both boys and girls, will prove to be those who compete with one another in piety and taqwa [true fear of God].

Thus, a pious and mo‘minah [female believer] woman has the potential to attain a rank much higher than that of a man.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifa’tul Masih V

19. The Right to Divorce and Protection from Divorce

Under certain conditions – either due to temperament’s not being compatible, or for any other reason – Islam has given permission to terminate a marriage, and in this regard, both men and women have been given equal say; man has the right to talaq [man’s right to divorce] and woman has the right to khula [woman’s right to divorce]. Men have been instructed that when exercising this right, it should be borne in mind that women are not unfairly treated. If they are treated unfairly, then it is extremely cruel, and Allah punishes cruelty. As regards talaq, while addressing men, Allah the Almighty says: 

…man has the right to talaq [man’s right to divorce] and woman has the right to khula [woman’s right to divorce].

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifa’tul Masih V

(وَاِنۡ عَزَمُوا الطَّلَاقَ فَاِنَّ اللّٰہَ سَمِیۡعٌ عَلِیۡمٌ ﴿۲۲۸

“And if they decide upon divorce, then surely, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.”

Holy Quran 2:228

The Promised Messiah (as) has also explained this in a way that does not favour men. He says:

“If [men] are determined in their decision for talaq, they should remember that God is All-Hearing and All-Knowing. This means that if the woman who was given a talaq was indeed wronged in the sight of God and she prays for a response against this wrongdoing, then God will listen to such a prayer.”

Arya Dharam, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 10, p. 52

Thus, in this verse, men have been told to pay heed to the fact that talaq should be considered with due care and caution. Women should not be given talaq for trivial reasons. If Allah the Almighty listens to you [men] and is aware of your state, He also listens to women and is aware of their circumstances. And if you act cruelly towards women and pursue separation, then a woman can pray to Allah for a response to this act of cruelty. And Allah listens to the prayers of those who are wronged. Those men have been warned here who act hastily to pursue talaq while a right of woman has been established.

20. Marrying up to Four Wives comes with Conditions

Then, another allegation that is raised against Islam is that men have been given permission to marry four times, which goes against the rights of women. 

The fact is that this is permitted in certain situations and is not a commandment. To utilise this permission, some conditions have been laid out. In this progressive society, even after a man has married, illicit relations are pursued outside, something which is seen every day in the news. Islam outright prohibits such shamelessness and indecency. The result of such indecency is that when the wife comes to learn of her husband’s impropriety, the situation escalates to separation, and this is all too common in this society.

Therefore, these people should not have any issue with Islam’s permitting men to marry up to four times, as their own actions are such. They should first look at themselves and secondly, as I have said, this is permitted with certain conditions. If those conditions are not being met, then a man does not have permission to do this. And when a person does marry more than once, then justice [in treatment of wives] has been declared as crucial.

21. A Man Would Prefer to Stay Single if…

Regarding the duties of the man who marries more than once and the rights of every wife, the Promised Messiah (as) said:

“These rights are such that if a man comes to fully realise them, instead of marrying, he would prefer to stay single. Only a man who lives his life in the fear of God can fulfill the rights owed to his wives. It is a thousand times better to live a difficult and bitter life than to live a life of pleasure with God’s punishment looming above one’s head.”

Malfuzat, Vol. 5, pp. 63-64 [1985, England]

That is to say, not to fulfill the rights of wives after marriage is such a huge sin that if its wisdom was pondered upon, then perhaps a man would not marry even once and he would prefer to stay unmarried if he was a true mo‘min [male believer].

The Promised Messiah (as) said:

“More than one marriage is a provision provided by the Shariah that serves as a remedy.”

The Promised Messiah

That is, more than one marriage, fulfilling its conditions, is permitted as a remedy.   

He then says:

“The first wife’s sentiments should be cared for to such an extent” – this is another right that has been fulfilled – “that if the husband feels the need to marry again, but he observes that as a result of another marriage, the first wife is hurt and her sentiments are injured, then if he can refrain with patience and this does not cause him to indulge in sin, nor does it cause him to infringe an injunction of the Shariah” (these are conditions – to safeguard from sin and to bear in mind the necessity under the Shariah) “then in such circumstances, if he can sacrifice his needs for the pleasure of his first wife”, that is to say, if he makes a compromise for the sake of the previous wife, “and become content with one wife, then there is no harm in this and it is better that he does not marry again.”

Malfuzat, Vol. 5, pp. 64-65 [1985, England]

In this regard, the Promised Messiah (as) says that even if it is a permissible reason, yet it is not urgent, then for the sake of pleasing one’s wife, it is necessary for a man to sacrifice his desire and remain satisfied with one marriage. “It is better that he does not marry again.”

The Promised Messiah (as) further says: 

“To hurt someone’s feelings is a sin. The relationship with daughters is extremely fragile. When parents separate their daughters from them and hand them over to someone else, just imagine what expectations they have in their hearts. One can only understand this by means of the following verse: ‘Consort with them in kindness’ (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.20).”

The Promised Messiah

22. Wife’s Right to Monogamy as Condition of Marriage

Thus, here, women’s sentiments and emotions have been openly expressed and men have been reminded of the rights of women and have been warned. The Promised Messiah (as) goes so far as to say:

“It is the right of these women that before they marry, first they make a condition that their husband will not marry another woman.”

Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khazain, Vol. 23, p. 246

This is also a woman’s right, that before marriage, she may make her future husband promise that he will not marry any other wife, no matter the circumstances, and thus, in every situation, he will become bound to not marry again. This is the extent to which men can be prevented by women from marrying further.

This is also a woman’s right, that before marriage, she may make her future husband promise that he will not marry any other wife, no matter the circumstances, and thus, in every situation, he will become bound to not marry again.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifa’tul Masih V

23. Men are Required to Protect and Provide for Women

Then, it is the responsibility of men to provide for the needs of women and offer them protection. Husbands are guardians of their wives and in this way, it is the responsibility of men to cater for every aspect of their household, take the burden of household expenses on their shoulders and look after the needs of his wife and children. Even if a woman earns an income, men should not cast glances on her money, as I mentioned earlier, apart from when a woman offers the money willingly. A man should fulfill his responsibilities himself. 

Physically, man has an advantage, something which is noticeable in the world – whether it is in terms of physical strength or emotional tolerance – therefore, he should always bear in mind not to emotionally or physically abuse his wife. If a man has an advantage physically – and emotionally in some situations – then it becomes incumbent upon him that he should not act cruelly towards women. In the household, if a dispute arises, even then he should refrain from saying anything offensive and using physical force, which can unjustly hurt a woman physically or emotionally. 

The physical advantage afforded to man and the responsibility to meet the needs of his wife should not be misused.

In this extract and in the verse that refers to men as “qawwam” [guardians], the rights of women have been established. As a result of the advantage that man has, men have been reminded of their responsibility. However, this advantage is not an advantage in every situation; rather, it is only so in certain cases.

24. Woman is Equal to Man for Rewards

Once, a female companion mentioned to the Holy Prophet (sa) the various obligations that men fulfill. After mentioning many details, she said that men performed jihad [striving] too, which was a great righteous act and that women were kept back from performing such acts and were to stay at home, perform their domestic responsibilities, bring up the children and look after the house. She then asked whether women could be equals to men in terms of reward, after carrying out their specific responsibilities. Due to certain obligations, if women are kept from carrying out the same deeds, then surely, women should at least be able to gain a status equal to that of men. She asked the Holy Prophet (sa) if they would be equal to men. 

The Holy Prophet (sa) highly praised this woman and asked the Companions (ra) if they had ever heard someone speak so eloquently with regard to a question on faith than that woman. Thus, the Holy Prophet (sa) drew the attention of his Companions (ra) to the beautiful manner in which the lady presented her case. 

The Companions (ra) replied, “We never expected a lady to possess such deep thoughts.” Due to the impact of their old views and past mindsets, they said that they never imagined that a lady could speak so eloquently. Thus, by addressing the Companions (ra), the Holy Prophet (sa) also indirectly explained to them that as they previously considered women as lesser than them, women could speak intellectually and with wisdom on matters to do with faith. Thus, the Holy Prophet (sa) explained that they should not give themselves preference in every matter as women could take the lead in terms of intellect and wisdom. 

The Holy Prophet (sa) said to this woman, who had presented her case with many details, “If a lady carries out all the tasks that you listed as the tasks of women, and if she remains house-bound and looks after the house and children and caters for her husband while he is at home and while he is away, then in terms of divine reward, she is equal to men – she is no lesser in terms of reward.” A woman can attain the same reward as that of a man performing jihad [striving]. 

The lady joyously proclaimed the words of “La ilaha illallah” [There is none worthy of worship except Allah] and “Allahu Akbar” [Allah is the Greatest], while returning home. (Tafsir Al-Dur al-Manthur, under the verse “Hafizaat lil-ghaibi”, Surah al-Nisa, verse 34, Vol. 2, p. 518, Bab 34)

Men have been given an advantage due to certain responsibilities assigned to them and not due to any intellectual and emotional superiority. And if men do not carry out their responsibilities, then they are sinful.

Nevertheless, in Islam, many women’s rights have been established, and their rewards are the same as those of men, with the condition that they carry out their responsibilities too and act in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat’ul Masih V

Nevertheless, in Islam, many women’s rights have been established, and their rewards are the same as those of men, with the condition that they carry out their responsibilities too and act in accordance with the teachings of Islam. Due to an inferiority complex, do not consider the teachings of Islam as a reason to feel ashamed, or by falling into the trap of the Dajjal [Antichrist], do not deem it to be a burden.

25. The Veil Protects from Stumbling

One of Islam’s commandments is purdah [veil]. Someone wrote to me a few days ago and said that in these countries, men did not stare at women as they did in Asian countries. Thus, they asked what reason there was in these countries to practice purdah [veil] according to Islam’s teachings. 

The first thing to remember is that no instruction of Allah the Almighty is such that can be declared redundant or a need of a specific time by succumbing to misinformation or by misinterpreting it. You must also remember that while Islam has instructed women to practice purdah [veil] and to keep their gazes lowered, men have been given this instruction first. If a truly Islamic society existed and men kept their gazes lowered, even in such circumstances, women are told to keep their gazes lowered too and to practice purdah [veil].

The Holy Prophet (sa), in the case of men sitting in the markets, instructed men to keep their gazes lowered. 

The Promised Messiah (as) also said:

“A mo‘min [male believer] should not be impertinent and let his sights roam unrestrained in every direction. In fact, one ought to act upon the following teaching: ‘They restrain their eyes’ (Ch.24: V.31) and lower their gaze and refrain from factors that may lead one to look at that which is impermissible.”

Malfuzat, Vol. 1, p. 533 [1988, Rabwah]

Thus, it is not a valid argument to say that just because men are not looking at you, you should shun the practice of purdah and modest clothing. 

The Promised Messiah (as) says:

“In the current day, objections are raised against the veil. However, people do not realise that the Islamic veil is not a prison.” It is not a prison in which women should be kept. “It is only a barrier which prevents the free mixing of men and women. The veil saves them from stumbling”

The Promised Messiah

The Promised Messiah (as) further says :

“It is to counter these very adverse effects that the Founder of Islam has forbidden an individual altogether from approaching anything that may lead them to stumble.” 

The Promised Messiah

From the very outset, caution has been prescribed so that one may be saved from negative consequences. 

“In this relation, the Holy Prophet (sa) has stated that where a non-mahram [a person with whom marriage is permissible] man and woman sit in seclusion, the third of them is Satan.”

The Promised Messiah

He further says:

“If you wish to protect a thing from misuse, it must be safeguarded. However, if one does not watch over a possession – and considers the world to be innocent – then keep in mind that it will surely be ruined.”

Malfuzat [English], Vol. 1, pp. 33-34

The people, in whose minds such questions arise, should remember that Islam promotes precautionary measures to bar the possibility of any mistake or sin. Those who follow it are those who safeguard their chastity and honour.

26. Purdah Does Not mean being Locked in Jail

Every instruction of Islam is balanced, which is why unnecessary strictness in purdah has been refuted by the Promised Messiah (as). 

The Promised Messiah (as) said:

“The Islamic veil does not at all mean that women be imprisoned as though they were locked in jail. The purport of the Holy Quran is that women cover themselves and refrain from gazing at men that are beyond the permissible bounds. Women are not barred from leaving the house to tend to their societal needs. They are welcome to go out and about, but must control their gaze.”

Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, p. 164

27. Islam Cuts at the Root of Lust

Similarly, at another juncture, the Promised Messiah (as) says to cover the hair of your head, your cheeks and chin. And it is the instruction of the Holy Quran to place a covering over your bosom and not to display your beauty. You should ensure this. (Tafsir Hazrat Masih-e-Maud, Vol. 6, pp. 93-94)

He says: “Islam has made no distinction between men and women in acts of virtue, nor have they been prohibited from being like men in goodness. Where does Islam state that women should be bound in chains? Islam cuts at the root of lust. Just look at what is happening in Europe.” All so-called developed countries are included in this. “What teaching has led to this result? Is this on account of the veil or due to removing the veil?”

There are many examples here, which we read of in newspapers. The Promised Messiah (as) is asking, what is this? Is it a result of purdah [veil], or a result of not acting on purdah [veil]?

28. Taqwa – The Key for Everything

“Islam has come to teach the world righteousness.”

Malfuzat [English], Vol. 2, pp. 164-165

Thus, we must all adopt taqwa [true fear of God] – both men and women – and follow the commands of Allah. 

May Allah enable us to always tread along the path of taqwa [true fear of God]. Every Ahmadi lady and every Ahmadi girl ought to recognise their status, and while fulfilling the instructions of Allah the Exalted and His Prophet (sa), they should endeavour to beautify their lives, instead of blindly following the material world in the name of freedom and rights. Today, it is the responsibility of every Ahmadi lady and every Ahmadi girl to inform the world of the status, honour and dignity of women. For this, without succumbing to any inferiority complex, everyone ought to make efforts.

May Allah the Almighty enable everyone to do so.

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