• Reports
  • October 29, 2005
  • 33 minutes read

Muslim Brotherhood on Muslim women in Islamic Society

Ikhwanul Muslimun’s standing on Muslim women in Islamic Society
Muslim Brotherhood on Muslim women in Islamic Society
The Role of Muslim Women in an Islamic Society

The Role of Muslim Women in an Islamic Society and the stand of the
Muslim Brotherhood regarding Womens’ rights to vote, be elected,
occupy public and governmental posts, and work in general.

This translation of the official document is copyrighted. You may copy
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permission, please send e-mail to mail…@prelude.co.uk

The Status of Women as Defined by Islam

The woman is a mother and it is said that “Paradise lies under her
feet” (reported by Al Tabarani). In an authentic hadith the Prophet
(peace be upon him)(SAAS) was asked by a man: `Who is the one most
worthy of my care?’. The Prophet replied: `Your mother’. The man
asked: `Then whom?’. He replied: `Your mother’. The man further asked:
`Then whom?’. He replied: `Your mother’. The man asked: `Then whom?’.
And in this fourth time the Prophet replied: `Then your father.’ This
shows that Allah has placed the care of the mother as a primary
responsibility of her sons.

Allah, exalted be He, says: {Your Lord has decreed that you worship
none but Him and that you be kind to parents. When one or both of them
attains old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect,
nor repel them but address them in terms of honour.} (Surat Al-Isra’
(17), ayah 23).

A woman is also a daughter and sister and like their male brothers,
are born of the same lineage and from the same womb: {He bestows
female (offspring) upon whom He wills, and bestows male (offspring)
upon whom Him wills.} (Surat Al-Shura (42), ayah 49). The Prophet
(SAAS) says: `Women are the (equal) sisters of men’.

A woman is also a wife who is a source of comfort for her husband as
he is to her: {And among His signs is this, that He created wives from
among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He
has put love and mercy between your (hearts)} (Surat Al-Rum (30), ayah
21). Allah also said: {They are like a garment to you and you are like
a garment to them} (Surat Al-Baqara (2), ayah 187)

Women make up half of society and they are responsible for the
nurturing, guidance and reformation of the subsequent generations of
men and women. It is the female who imbues principles and faith into
the souls of the nation.

Allah, exalted be He, created Adam from clay and Eve from Adam, and
mankind came from both of them: {O mankind! Fear your Guardian Lord,
who created you from a single person, created out of it, his mate, and
from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;}
(Surat Al-Nisa (4), ayah 1). {It is He Who created you from a single
person, and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell
with her (in love).}(Surat Al-A’raf (7), ayah 189).

There is no direct or indirect text in the Islamic Law (Shari’a) that
even remotely suggests that women are inherently evil or impure as
found in some distorted creeds that attribute lies to God. In fact,
the Prophet (SAAS) said in an authentic hadith that `A believer is
never impure’.

People are differentiated in Islam according to their faith,
God-consciousness and good conduct. Allah, exalted be He, says: {O
mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of male and female, and
made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another.
Verily, the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is (he who
is) the most God-fearing} (Surat AI-Hujurat (49), ayah 13). He also
says: {And their Lord has accepted of them, and answered them: `Never
will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female:
you are members, one of another’,} (Surat Al-Imran (3), ayah 195).
{Whoever works righteousness, whether male or female, and has faith,
verily, to him will We give a life that is good and pure, and We will
bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.}
(Surat Al-Nahl (16), ayah 97).

There is nothing in the Quran or the Sunnah (Prophet’s tradition) to
support the allegations made by the distorted creeds that have
attributed lies to Allah by claiming that it was Eve who seduced Adam
into eating from the tree. The Quran categorically addresses the
Divine command to both Adam and Eve: {O, Adam dwell you and your wife
in the Garden, and eat thereof as you both wish: but approach not this
tree, lest you become of the unjust. Then Satan whispered suggestions
to them, in order to uncover that which was hidden from them (before);
he said: `Your Lord only forbade you this tree, lest you should become
angels or such beings as live for ever.’ And he (Satan) swore to them
both, (saying) that he was their sincere advisor.} (Surat Al-Araf (7),
ayah 19-21). Both repented together: {They said: `Our Lord, we have
wronged our own souls: If You forgive us not and bestow not upon us
Your Mercy, we shall certainly be lost.’} (Surat Al-Araf (7), ayah
23). Also {Then did Satan make them slip from the (Garden), and get
them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been.} (Surat
Al-Baqarah (2), ayah 36).

Thus, the Quran and the authentic traditions have refuted all false
claims and superstitions that may arise concerning women and their

A woman’s responsibility in faith is exactly the same as that of a
man. She is accountable for her belief in Allah and the Prophet (SAAS)
even if her closest of kin, like her father, husband or brother
disagrees with her in this. Allah, the All-Wise and All-Knowing gave
an example of the infidels through two women and an example of the
faithful also citing two women. {Allah sets forth an example for those
who disbelieve, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot: they were under
two of our righteous servants but they both betrayed their (husbands
by rejecting their doctrine), so they (Noah and Lot) benefited them
(their wives) not against Allah, and it was said: `Enter the Fire
along with those who enter!’ And Allah has set forth, as an example to
those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: `O My Lord!
Build for me, in nearness to You, a mansion in the Garden, and save me
from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong’;

And Mary the descendant of `Imran, who guarded her chastity and We
breathed into (her body) of Our Spirit; and she testified to the truth
of the words of her Lord and of his Revelations, and was one of the
devout (servants).} (Surat Al-Tahrim (66), ayah 10-12).

The Muslim woman, like the Muslim man is called upon to believe in
Allah, the Day of Judgement, the Book, the Angels, and the Prophets,
etc. She is also asked to perform prayers, pay out the Zakat duty,
fast in the month of Ramadan and perform Pilgrimage to the Holy Places
if she can do so. She must also call for the good and forbid evil in
addition to being responsible for the well-being of the Muslim
community. {The believers, men and women, are guardians, one of
another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil,} (Surat
Tawbah (9), ayah 71); {O you who believe! When there come to you
believing women refugees, examine them. Allah is more knowledgeable of
their faith. If you find them to be believers, do not return them to
the infidels} (Surat Al-Mumtahina (60), ayah 10). {O Prophet, when
believing women come to you to give you the pledge that they will not
associate anything in worship with Allah, that they will not steal,
they will not commit adultery (or fornication), that they will not
kill their children, that they will not utter slander intentionally
forging falsehood, and that they will not disobey you in anything that
is virtuous then accept their allegiance and ask Allah to forgive
them,} (Surat Al-Mumtahina (60), ayah 12).

A woman also has to study the Islamic teachings for her own personal
guidance the same as the male. She is responsible for conveying and
communicating Islam. {Ask the knowledgeable people if you do not
know.} (Surat Al-Anbia’ (21), ayah 7) {of every troop of them, a party
only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get
instructions in (Islamic) religion, and that they may warn their
people when they return to them, so that they may beware of evil.}
(Surat Tawbah (9), ayah 122).

The hudood (punishments) that are prescribed in the Shari’a are the
same for men and women; the female thief is punished the same as the
male thief, the adulteress is punished like the adulterer, the female
wine-drinker is punished like the male wine-drinker, and the female
who wages war on Allah and the Prophet is punished like the male who
does so.

In qisas (retribution), the woman’s soul is equal to that of the man.
The murderess is like the murderer and the murdered woman is like the
murdered man. Qisas is exacted from a man if he kills a woman exactly
and as equally as when he kills a man. Blood money rules do not
discriminate between male and female.

It has been shown throughout the history of Islam that women took part
in the First and Second Ba’yat al-Aqabah (pledges of allegiance).
Furthermore, it was Khadija, the wife of the Prophet Mohamed (SAAS)
who was the first to believe in, support and comfort our Prophet. It
was Somayya who was among the first to be martyred upholding Islam.
Al-Bukhari and Ahmed (reporters of the traditions of the Prophet
Mohamed) cited Al-Rabiyya’ the daughter of Mu’awadh as saying: `We
used to participate in the battles with the Prophet of Allah. We gave
water to the fighters, served them, and returned the dead and wounded
to Medina.’

Also Muslim, Ibn Majah and Ahmed (in their narrations) said that Umm
Ateyya, the Ansari, said: `I accompanied the Messenger of Allah (SAAS)
seven times, guarding the camp, making the food, treating the wounded
and caring for the sick’.

In his Sahih, Muslim reported Umm Sulaim, the wife of Abi Talha, as
saying that she carried a dagger on the day of the battle, of Hunain.
When the Prophet (SAAS) asked her about it she said, `I carry it so
that I can defend myself against the enemies.’ The Messenger (SAAS)
did not forbid this. Nusaibah, the daughter of Ka’b, fought in the
wars of riddah (apostasy) at the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr and
she suffered many wounds caused by stabs and strikes.

A marriage is not valid in the Shari’ah of Allah without the approval,
acceptance and consent of the woman and it is forbidden by the Shari’a
that she be forced to marry someone that she does not accept.

The woman has full financial status that is no less than that of the
man. She has the right, in the same way that a man does, to possess
all types of wealth whether it be in the form of assets, real estate
or cash. She has the right to use her wealth in any manner she wishes
to as long as it is approved by the Shari’a. So she can buy, sell,
trade, barter, provide grants and loans, incur loans, exchange assets
etc. All these actions do not require the consent of any male whether
this be her father, husband, or brother. In his sahih, Al-Bukhari
titles one chapter: “A woman is permitted to free slaves and give
gifts to someone other than her husband, unless she is mentally
deranged.” In this he reported that Umm al-Muminin, the wife of the
Messenger of Allah (SAAS), Maimunah bint Al-Harith freed a girl born
as her slave without asking for the Prophet’s (SAAS) permission. When
she mentioned this to him he said: `If you had given her to your
maternal uncle as a gift, your reward (with Allah) would have been

In one saying, the Messenger (SAAS) said that women are less (than
men) in mind, deen and fortune, however he has explained this saying
in a manner that is consistent with the texts cited concerning the
rights, dignity and honour of women.

The lesser degree in deen does not mean a lesser degree of Iman
(Belief) or that she is less human, in that she cannot rise to the
highest ranks. This only means that Allah Himself has exempted her
from certain forms of ritual worship at certain times, such as prayers
and fasting during her ha’id (menstruation periods) and during her
nifaas (bleeding time after delivery). The lesser fortune only means
that in some cases of inheritance a woman’s share is less than that of
a man’s. The Messenger (SAAS) did not generalise this to other rights
or to anything indicating a lesser status. The lesser mind is
concerning the status of a woman’s testimony in certain matters like
debts and sale contracts, and in hudood (punishments). It does not
imply anything other than this and is not generalised to degrade women
into being inferior to men.

Indeed, in this regard, it should be pointed out that there are
certain matters which only accept the testimony of a woman and not
that of a man. Furthermore, women are unanimously accepted as
narrators of ahadith (the sayings of the Prophet Mohamed), and this
means that their testimony in narrating ahadith is treated like that
of a man. In addition to this a woman is responsible towards her
duties to her faith and she has full independence in her right to
possess, and in her right to make contracts. If she was supposed to
have a lesser mind, the contracts and other dealings would have
required the assistance of a male.

The Quran addresses everyone, men and women, equally: {The Muslim men
and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the
worshipping men and worshipping women, the truthful men and truthful
women, the pious men and pious women, the alms-giving men and the
alms-giving women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who are
chaste and the women who are chaste, the men who remember Allah much
and the women who do likewise, Allah has prepared a forgiveness and a
great reward for all.} (Surat Al-Ahzab (33), ayah 35). Allah also
says: {It is not for a believing man or woman, when Allah and His
messenger have decreed a matter, that they should have any option in
their decision.} (Surat Al-Ahzab (33), ayah 36) and {Say to the
believers to lower off their gaze and be chaste for this is more pure
for them and God knows what they do. Say to the believing women to
lower off their gaze and be chaste.} (Surat Al-Nour (24), ayah 30).

As for the Qawwaamah (directing role) that men have over women as
mentioned in Allah’s saying {men are the protectors and maintainers of
women} (Surat Al-Nisa’ (4), ayah 34), this should not be understood as
an absolute and general attitude in all things and for all men over
all women. The above verse goes on to an explanation of the matter.
{For what Allah has favoured some of them over others and for the
money they spend.} This determines that a directing role is confined
to the family alone and to matters only concerning the husband and
wife relationship. As was said earlier the husband has no such
directing role over the financial assets of his wife. All her
decisions concerning her own property are valid and the husband can
not nullify any of them. None of these decisions require the husband’s

This Qawwaamah is merely a matter of leadership and directing in
exchange for duties that should be performed. For it is the husband
who pays the dowry in marriage, it is he who provides the house, its
furniture, and all its needs and it is he who provides for the wife
and children. He cannot force his wife to pay for any of these
expenses even if she is wealthy. In most cases, the husband is older
and it is the husband who is usually the breadwinner of the family and
mixes more, with a wider range of people. Every type of group
including the family must have a leader to guide it within the limits
of what Allah has ordained for there can be no obedience for a human
being in a matter involving disobedience to the Creator. It is the
husband who is qualified for that leadership.

This role is not one of repression, hegemony, or tyranny but one of
kindness, love and gentleness. It directs to the right path in wisdom
and benevolence. It is fundamentally based on consultations, as the
Quran speaks of the Muslims as {having their affairs in consultation
among them.} (Surat Al-Shura (42), ayah 38); this being a general
injunction. There is also a specific order in Quran for consultations
in the affairs of marriage: {Should they (husband and wife) wish to
separate from each other in agreement and upon consultation then they
can do so blame lessly.} (Surat Al-Baqara (2),ayah 232). Similarly, in
divorce: {And it is not lawful for you (men) to take back (from your
wives) any of your gifts which you have given them, except when both
parties fear that they would be unable to keep the limits ordained by
Allah (e.g. to deal with each other on a fair basis). Then if you fear
that they would not be able to keep the limits ordained by Allah, then
there is no sin on either of them if she gives something for her
freedom} (Surat Al-Baqara (2), ayah 229). Add to this Allah’s saying:

{Live with them (wives) in honourably (kindness). If you hate them, it
may be that you hate a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal
of Good.} (Surat Al-Nisa’ (4), ayah 19). Other texts in the Shari’a
indicate in a clear manner that marital life is based on comfort,
gentleness and love and they categorically set out the meaning of
Qawwaamah and its limits. Qawwaamah does not mean that women are lower
or that they have less rights, Qawwaamah means, as Allah has
indicated, that men are responsible for what they spend.

The general rule, therefore, is equality between men and women. The
exceptions are from Allah, the All-Knowing and All-Aware because it is
He who knows His creation best and the exceptions are in those
specific characteristics that distinguish the female from the male.
These differences are due to the separate functions that have been
accorded to the male and the female. It is because of these
complimentary and necessary distinctions that a man becomes attracted
to a woman and a woman becomes attracted to a man and a marriage can
be a happy, constructive and a healthy one.

The woman’s nature as the mother means that there are certain virtues
which Allah has made specific to her such as the protection of her
honour and the honour of her offspring. For example, religious texts
ordained that the woman’s body, except for the face and the hands,
should be covered in front of all except those who are a mahram (those
she is forbidden to marry). And that a woman should not sit in private
with a man who is not mahram.

Furthermore, the female has a greater sense of modesty and
sensitivity. Hence, though she should demand her rights and practise
them accordingly, this practice should be such that her modesty,
dignity, virtue and sanctity be preserved.

We must not forget that the woman has a noble and significant task
entrusted to her by Allah Almighty, child-bearing and motherhood. A
man cannot undertake this most noble of tasks, which is being
denigrated today by some; furthermore the human race itself would
disappear in the absence of this process. Moreover, it is the mother
that suckles the baby with her milk, giving out of care, nurturing the
child, the effects of which remain with him throughout his life. The
woman is also the lord of the house and it is her task to care for the
family and prepare the home as a place of comfort; her role is a huge
responsibility and noble mission that must not be in any way neglected
or underestimated.

These characteristics, duties and rights which have been allocated to
women by Allah are in balance with the duties she has towards her
husband and her children. These duties must be given precedence over
other responsibilities and they are necessary for the stability of the
family which is the basic cell of the society and the cause for its
cohesion, strength, and efficiency. However, the husband has a right
to permit his wife to work. This right is to be regulated by an
agreement between the husband and the wife. Such rights should not be
regulated by law and the authorities should not interfere with them
except in some rare cases.

The Woman’s Right to Vote, Be Elected and Occupy Public and
Governmental Posts.

We hope that we have been able to shed some light on the status of the
Muslim woman in an Islamic society concerning her rights and duties.
We now deal with the issue of the woman’s right to vote and be elected
as a member to representative councils, or to assume public office or
carry out professional work.

women and the right of electing members of representative councils and
similar bodies

We are of the view that there is nothing in Shari’a to prevent women
from taking part in these matters. Allah says: {the men believers and
the women believers are responsible for each other . They enjoin the
good and forbid the evil } (Surat al-Tawbah’ (9), ayah 71) and His
saying {Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all
that is good and forbidding all Evil. And it is they who are the
successful.} (Surat Al-Imran (3), ayah 104). This verse includes a
command that gives women the right to enjoin the good and forbid the
evil and part of this is the right to vote for the representative
council in the elections. Some Muslim countries stipulate that it is
the absolute right of women to vote in the elections because these
countries wish to demonstrate their “democratic basis”; the Muslim
women should not avoid this opportunity because their reluctance to
vote can often weaken the position of the Islamic candidates.

, women’s membership in representative councils and similar bodies

We are of the view that there is nothing in the Shari’a texts to
prevent this either. The views we cited earlier concerning their right
to vote applies to their right to be elected as well.

There are some views which are held by others which support the
contrary, they say that:

1. Women lack the knowledge of practising public affairs. Hence, they
can be easily misled. This argument is refuted by the fact that an
ignorant woman is like an ignorant man. Not all women are ignorant
and not all men are educated or experienced in public affairs. We
are dealing with the basic right, not with the conditions that
must be present in every candidate whether they be male or female.
This is quite another issue. We call for the education and the
enlightenment of both women and men, and the exertion of all
possible efforts in this connection, this being an important
objective and duty made binding by the Shari’a
2. It is argued that women undergo menstruation, child-bearing and
labour -a fact which may hamper their performance in the council
to which they are elected. But this can be refuted by saying that
men also may be subject to misjudgement or illness which may
impair their performance. Add to this, that membership in
representative councils has certain conditions including a certain
age range for the deputy of between thirty and forty years. In
most cases, when a woman is around the age of forty, she will have
completed her burdens of child-bearing, and would have attained to
a phase of mental and psychological maturity, as well as emotional
stability. It is unlikely that a person in the minimum age limit
can gain a seat in the representative office because this requires
long experience for many years in the exercise of public office.
Statistics show that only a few members of representative bodies
are in or near the minimum mandatory age. The majority are much
We are speaking about the right of standing for membership, we are
not dealing with the qualifications necessary for conditions of
membership for men and women. It is up to the voters to choose if
they see that the female candidate is not in a condition or a
state which enables her to perform her duties. It is supposed that
they will not support her and that the body patronising her will
be reluctant to go on doing so or to field her as candidate.
3. Immodesty and intermingling of the sexes are also cited as
counter-arguments. We do not call for immodesty and free mixing of
the sexes. For the woman is bound by the Shari’a to abide by the
Islamic dress code whether she goes out to take part in elections
or to attend the sessions of the council in which she is a member
or for any other purpose. It is a duty to set aside election
centres for women, which are already in effect in most Islamic
countries. Women should be allocated special places in the
representative councils so that there will be no fear of crowding
or intermingling.
4. Travelling abroad by a female member, without company of a mahram,
is similarly cited in opposition but it can be countered by
realising that it is not necessary for her to travel without the
company of a mahram. She need not be in a situation without secure
company nor in any situation which is not within the boundaries of
the Shari’ah.

Women’s holding of Public Office

The only public office which it is agreed upon that a woman cannot
occupy is the presidency or head of state. As for judiciary office,
the jurisprudents have differed over women’s holding of it. Some, like
Al-Tabari and Ibn-Hazm, said this is permissible without any
restrictions. The majority of jurispudents, however, have forbidden it
completely. But there have been those who allowed it for certain types
of legal matters and forbade it in others (like the Imam Abu Hanifa).
As long as the matter is the subject of interpretation and
consideration, it is possible to choose from these opinions in
accordance with the fundamentals of the Shari’a and to achieve the
interests of Muslims at large as governed by the Shari’a controls and
also in accordance to the conditions and circumstances of society. As
for other types of public office the woman can accept them as there is
nothing in the Shari’a to prevent her from doing so. Also, there is
nothing to prevent her from working in what is permissible since the
public office is a type of work that the Shari’a allowed women to
undertake. Women can work in professions becoming doctors, teachers,
nurses, or such fields which she or the society may need.

A General Remark

We, The Muslim Brotherhood, wish to draw attention to the need of
distinguishing between a person’s having a right and the way, the
conditions, and the appropriate circumstances for the use of that
right. Thus, if today’s societies have different social circumstances
and traditions it is acceptable that the exercise of these rights
should be gradually introduced in order for the society to adjust to
these circumstances. More importantly, such an exercise should not
lead to the violation of ethical rules laid down by the Shari’a and
made binding by it.

We completely reject the way that western society has almost
completely stripped women of their morality and chastity. These ideals
are built upon a philosophy which is in contradiction to the Shari’ah
and its morals and values. It is important in our Islamic Society,
that the Islamic principles, morals and values are upheld with the
fullest conviction, honour and austerity, in obedience to Allah,
exalted be He.

And all praise is due to Allah, in the beginning and the end. May the
blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger and his companions and his