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Equal in respect, Different in role

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Islam gives equal status to women as that of men. The Quran says, “You are members, one of another” (3:195). This means that there is no difference between the two as regards status, rights, and blessings both in this world and in the Hereafter.

A Hadith says, men and women are two equal halves of a single unit (Al Tirmizi).

We see that both the sacred scriptures of Islam make it clear that neither gender is inferior or superior to the other. However, studies in biology and psychology show that the genders are different in nature, each being designed for a different purpose. So, the Islamic maxim runs: equal in respect, but different in role. The Quran says that men are ‘maintainers’ of women (4:34). This leads to a common misconception that Islam gives a higher status to men than women.

This verse does not mean that men have a distinctive status over women — being maintainers of women has never been intended as a form of discriminatory treatment, it rather concerns the practical management of the home, for which the man is held responsible.

However, this does not mean that a woman will never be allowed to shoulder these responsibilities. If she finds that she can bear this burden, no one will object to this. One example of this can be found in the Quran with reference to the people of Sheba. They lived in Yemen.

The famous dam of Marib made their country very prosperous and enabled it to attain a high degree of civilization. The Quran tells us that they were ruled by a woman (27:23).

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