Islam and Women

Unfortunately, for those whose only source of knowledge concerning Islam is the western media, will inevitably believe that Islam is 'oppressive' to women - the hijab (veil) being the symbol of that oppression. Why? This is the result of a fierce propaganda campaign that has been going on all over the western world for a long time. Yet in the US, western Europe, Japan and Australia, it is the women who have been turning to Islam in record numbers and adopting the Islamic code of dress and enjoying their lives ever since. However, of late, many Muslim women have begun to envy their western counterparts for having a so-called "free and easy life". Yet little do they realise that the poor and unfortunate western woman is suffering a nightmare. Outwardly, non-Muslim women are seen to be given equal rights in education, work and so forth, but in reality these women are still oppressed in a different, subtler way. In these days of so-called "equal-rights" a woman is expected to have boyfriends (or she is considered weird) and to lose her virginity before she is married. Under the banner of "freedom" western women are told they have the complete independence to do as they wish. This however, is a charade - both the media machine and the multimillion dollar film/advertising industries establish the status quo that people are programmed to accept. Consequently, these institutions fashion and nurture the ideas of the common people and their principles, morals and conduct. This unnecessary pressure on women to conform or be rejected is in itself a form of oppression although many women do not realise it. This is where the fallacy of the freedom and non-oppression of women lies. It seems that everywhere in the west a woman is seen as an object of man's desire only to be harassed and reduced to a source of temporary joy and pleasure as well as her sexuality being exploited - how? - Nearly every advertisement has to have a naked woman in order to sell its product. The lewd onslaught that humanity has been subject to has provided an environment where the honour and respect of women is constantly under threat. For example, women are subject to unacceptable harassment in the modern workplace; - 38% of men have been found to physically abuse their female counterparts. Outside the workplace, men have let loose of their desires due to the high exposure to the media bombardment they receive that exploits the femininity of women, day in day out.

Consider the following statistics:

  • A rape is committed every two minutes in the USA
  • In 1996 307,000 women were the victims of rape or sexual assault in the USA and only 31% of rapes and sexual assaults were reported!
  • 75% of all sexual assaults are committed by men who know their victims personally

Even her womb is an unsafe place for her unborn child as she is pressured into believing that abortion is a natural choice (why should a living child in the womb be deserving of fewer rights than one which is already born). Women with children are no better off as men are no longer made responsible and accountable for the children they produce. In the USA in 1994, 9.9 million single mothers were maintaining and taking care of their children compared with only 1.6 million single fathers.

The western woman is led to believe that by selling her body she is achieving equality, but in reality she is just being exploited for the desires and financial gains of men. And with the billions of dollars that are generated by the pornographic industries it is not surprising that she is encouraged to do this. Thus, women in this society are not regarded as human beings with feelings and needs but as mere available commodities to be used and cast aside. All this is leading her to alcohol and drug addiction as well as poor health and depression, then eventually suicide - all of which are increasing rapidly for women today. In bygone days, women were murdered when they had served their apparent purpose, now women are ultimately driven to kill themselves!

This is the position of women in the west. Is this a society that promises the freedom and protection of its womenfolk? It is apparent from the above that the illusion of freedom and supposed equality of life of the western woman is in fact destroying her. But she staggers around in an apathetic stupor because she cannot envisage an alternative.


First of all, hijab (head cover), the greatest symbol of oppression and servitude in the West, is not an invention of Islam; in fact, it is part of Judaeo-Christian tradition. Rabbi Dr. Menachem M. Brayer (Professor of Biblical Literature at Yeshiva University) quotes some famous ancient Rabbis saying "It's not like the daughters of Israel to walk out with heads uncovered" and Cursed be the man who lets the hair of his wife be seen...a woman who exposes her hair for self-adornment brings poverty." [1] In the New Testament, St. Paul made some very interesting statements about the veil:

"Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonours his head. And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonours her head - it is just as though her head were shaved. If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or shaved off, she should cover her head. A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman but woman for man. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head" (1 Corinthians(1:3-6))

Many times Muslim women are asked why do they cover completely from head to toe. They are also told that this is oppression. Marriage is an important part of life in Islam and women are required to show themselves to their husbands only and not the public. Men are also prevented from showing certain parts of their body in public. The above statistics show clearly how often women are raped and molested in this society. The Hijab (Veil) of the Muslim woman is her protection. It allows her to be judged as an individual and not as an object of desire, i.e. her sexuality is no longer in the equation and she is no longer a slave to the unfair demands of beauty made by this male driven society. The hijab inculcates modesty in a woman, it does not act as a sign of manís authority over women, or her subjugation, rather it protects her from molestation.

"O Prophet, tell your wives and daughters and the believing women that they should cast their outer garment over their bodies so that they should be known (as Muslim and chaste women) and not molested" (33:59)

Before becoming lured by the "Sugar coated Poison" of the western woman's lifestyle, realise that our Hijab (Veil) is our pride not our shame. Truly the respect we are looking for will diminish if we neglect this. Also, free mixing and inter-mingling of the sexes is prohibited in Islam for the benefit of both men and women and it is clear that such behaviour is the cause of so many problems in today's society, i.e. adultery - which is the most common cause for divorce. Undoubtedly whatever Allah (SWT) commands is pure, beneficial to mankind and right.

Islam encourages chastity, marriage, reproduction and upbringing of children for women, all of which our so-called "modern, liberated women" are taught to neglect at their peril. Islam gave women economic liberation and independence from men for the first time in human history. The Muslim woman was able to buy, sell, inherit and invest as she pleased. Through observing Haya (modesty, bashfulness) and the elevated status of motherhood, Muslim women enjoy respect and protection in society. Islamic history is replete with Muslim women who were scholars and intellectuals as well as the true backbone of society. This is because of the strong emphasis on education as well as social stability that Islam holds.

The western woman prides herself on her "freedom". Yes, freedom is a quality of life that all should have, however, does freedom to fornicate, commit adultery and other sins of the flesh equate to progress and advancement of society, or is this a return to traits of bestiality, a far cry to those noble qualities commanded in the noble Quran and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad (SAW). This acts as a source of mercy to the world we live in, acknowledging the inherent evil nature of man, rather than the need to restrict and punish women.


Other links:
Purchase Books  Further Reading Available from Islamic Shariah Institute: What Islam is Shaykh, Hayatul Muslimeen, Islam The Choice of Thinking Women, Discourses of Islamic Way of Life, Bringing up Children in Islam

Purchase Cassettes  Further Listening: The First, The Last, The Men and the Jinn, The Hadeeth of Jibr'il (AS), Islam and The Realm of the Unseen, The Aqeedah Series, The Prophet (SAW) - A Mercy for the Worlds, Perfection of Iman (Belief), Believers (Soorah al- Baqarah - Part 2)

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