THE RANK OF MAN AND WOMAN
[By Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]
“And for them (women) are (rights) similar to the (rights of men) on them”
(Surah Baqarah. aayat 228)
Rights are not exclusive with males. While men have rights which women have to discharge, so too do women have rights which men have to discharge. This aayat (mentioned above) states equality in the obligation of discharging rights. In other words, it is obligatory on both men and women to honour their respective obligations to one another. The aayat does not state equality of rights. It does not teach exactitude of men’s and women’s rights as modernists are at pains to convey by their misinterpretation of this aayat.
The idea of equality of rights of men and women is effectively negated by aayat No. 34 of Surah Nisaa:
“Men are the rulers of women by virtue of the significance (elevated rank) which Allah has bestowed to some over others and on account of what they spend of their wealth (for the maintenance of women).”
Also other Qur’aanic verses and many Ahadith categorically assert the superiority of man over woman. Negating the possible misunderstanding of equality of ranks, the following aayat of Surah Baqarah declares very explicitly:
“For men is a rank over them (women).”
(Surah Baqarah. Ayat no. 228)
In stating the superiority of men, aayat 34 of Surah Nisaa says:
“Men are the qawwamoon (rulers) of women.”
The words (qawwaam), ( qayyim ) and (qaa-im ) from which (qawwaamoon) is derived refer to the person appointed to supervise and control an organization. It is for this reason that the authorities [Mufassireen and Fuqaha] of the Shariah translate qawwaamoon in this aayat as rulers. Thus, men are the rulers and supervisors of women.
Every organization or group-activity requires a supervisor/head to ensure smooth functioning. Differences, disputes and indecision are bound to develop in any organization or institution. It is the function of the supervisor/head to eliminate dispute and discord. Thus governments, kingdoms, tribes and organizations all have their heads/chiefs.
The family being perhaps the most important social organization and structure is no exception to this rule. It too necessarily has its head. It is inconceivable that this important and vital organization of life was left rudderless without a head to control and regulate its affairs. For the position of supervisor of the family, Allah Ta’ala has chosen the man. He has been divinely endowed with superior rank and ability to enable him to correctly fulfil his duties as head of the family. Thus Allah Ta’ala granted him superior intelligence and physical powers than what He bestowed to women.
The aayat, ‘For men there is a rank over women’ and the aayat, ‘Men are the rulers of women’, evince that although women do have rights which men have to compulsorily honour, the latter (i.e. men) enjoy a distinguished status which divinely qualified them for the appointment as rulers of the women. However, despite his elevated rank as head of the family, it is abundantly clear from the Qur’aan and Ahadith that man’s reign in his home should not be oppressive and dictatorial. It is imperative that his reign be tempered with understanding, benevolence, toleration and love. He is not permitted to abuse his position for his personal gain and satisfaction. He is under Shar’i obligation to act in the interests of the welfare of his family. Commanding him to act beautifully and benevolently, the Qur’aan says:
“Live with them (women) with beautiful conduct.”
He is also required to consult with her, hence the Qur’ aan says:
“… by their mutual approval and consultation.”
To allay the fears of women, the Qur’aan in aayat 34 Surah Nisaa apprizes her of the wisdom underlying man’s appointment as her ruler. Firstly, Allah Ta’ala Himself has created man the superior one. This He states in the aayat:
“By virtue of the excellence which Allah has elevated some over others.”
The superior rank which man possesses is not attainable by his effort, but is a bestowal of Allah Ta’ala.
The second factor of man’s superior status is that the responsibility of earning and maintaining the family devolves squarely on him. Only he is responsible to provide all the needs and wants of his family.
At this juncture in the tafseer of this aayat, Ibn Hibban states in Tafseer Bahr Muheet that it is clear from these two factors (on man’s superiority over woman) that coercive power is not an adequate entitlement for government. Force is not the only requisite necessary for government — any kind of government. A man qualifies to be a ruler, king or head of a government only if he possesses the ability to execute the functions of government. Thus, wisdom, understanding, experience, toleration, etc., are all necessary attributes for a ruler.
The Qur’aan Majeed adopts a very eloquent style in stating the superiority of man over woman. Instead of simply saying, “Allah elevated men over women.”, the Qur’an states:
“Allah has elevated some (Ba’dh) of them over others.”
The term “ba’dh” means part or portion of the same entity. The implication is that man and woman are parts of the same entity. The elevation of man over woman does not minimise her importance. Man’s superiority is comparable to the superiority of the head over the arm, or the superiority of the heart over the stomach. But such superiority does not reduce the importance of the arm or of the stomach. Further, the elevation of one person’s rank over another person does not imply contempt for the latter. Elevation of ranks is to be found even among the Ambiya (Prophets). The Qur’aan says in this regard:
“These are the Messengers (Prophets). We have elevated (in rank) some over others.”
Some important facts emerge from the second factor of man’s superiority. It explains why man’s share of inheritance is double the share of a woman. Since the full responsibility of supporting the family devolves on the man, he has been awarded a double share. In contrast, women before marriage are supported by their fathers and after marriage by their husbands. His double share should therefore not surprise anyone.
By nature woman lacks the ability of supporting herself. Her natural physical constitution and disposition preclude her from participation in the arduous tasks and activities beyond the home precincts. The role of the male assumed by western `liberated’ women does not detract from this truth. The role which the kuffaar, shaitaan and woman’s own nafs (desires) have imposed on her is unnatural, unfair, morally and physically destructive. It is a role which dehumanizes her. In addition it is an act of satanic rebellion against Allah Ta’ala.
In Islam, are women inferior than men?
Western, liberal and unislamic ideas have distorted your mental vision. What is your conception of inferiority? The Qur’aan says about the Ambiyaa [Prophets] (alayhimus salaam):
“These are the messengers. We have given some ranks over (or above) others.”
Even the Ambiyaa [Prophets] are not equal. Rasulullah (sallallahua alayhi wasallam) is superior in rank to Nabi Musaa (alayhis salaam). In fact he is superior than all the Ambiyaa (Prophets) (alayhimus salaam). Thus, in relation to Rasulullah (sallallahua alayhi wasallam) all the Ambiyaa (alayhimus salaam) are inferior. Hadhrat Jibreel (alayhis salaam) is the highest ranking Angel. In relation to him, Hadhrat Israafeel (alayhis salaam) is inferior. In relation to Qur’aan Shareef, the Hadith is inferior. In relation to the Kab’ah, Masjidun Nabawi is inferior.
In relation to the elder brother, the younger brother is inferior. In relation to a mother, her son, even if he is a great Aalim and a Saint, is inferior. In relation to an elder sister, the younger brother is inferior. In relation to Hadhrat Abu Bakr (radhiyallahu anhu), Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) and all the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu anhum) and the entire Ummah are inferior. In relation to the Ustaadh [teacher], his students are inferior. In relation to a Shaikh [spiritual guide], his mureeds [disciples] are inferior whether male or female.
In every level of society there are ranks and gradations. The concept of blanket equality is a stupid idea of the Kuffaar. The husband has been made the chief of the family by Allah Ta’ala. It is his responsibility to maintain and train his wife and children. He has the highest rank in his home. He is superior to his wife and children even if his sons are the greatest saints and he an ignorant farmer.
Is it an insult to all the Ambiyaa (alayhimus salaam) to say that they are inferior to Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam)? On the contrary, they all are proud to be the inferior followers of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Similarly is it with all the ‘inferior’ beings cited above as examples. The Qur’aan categorically states:
“For men over them (women) is a rank.”
What problem do you or any Muslim have with this assertion of Allah Ta’ala? The problem is only that westernism and kufr liberalism have imposed on the minds of people that the higher male ranks relegate women to chattlehood. Modernist and deviated Muslims have been made to understand that women in Islam are contemptible; that men are free to abuse and denigrate them.
But every Muslim who has even a slight understanding of Islam knows that these western ideas are plain garbage which the enemies of Allah gorge out. Even in Jannat [paradise] there will be different ranks among all levels of people. When according to Islam even two men are not equal, what is wrong if there is not equality between men and women? But since deceived people have been indoctrinated to believe that ‘inferiority’ means contemptibility, they feel awkward with Islamic teachings.
A woman with her piety can surpass any man in rank by Allah Ta’ala. By Allah Ta’ala, the criterion of superiority is Taqwa [consciousness of Allah and His laws]. Innumerable women will have higher ranks by Allah Ta’ala than males on account of their Taqwa. Every Mu’min is aware of the lofty rank of Hadhrat Aisha (radhiyallahu anha). She was the Ustaadhah (teacher) of numerous Sahaabah. She was the most beloved Wife of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhis salaam). She will be entering Jannat centuries before numerous male Sahaabah. What idea will you now gain when it is said that she is inferior to her husband, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhis salaam)? Is any contempt implied for her by this claim? We in fact say that contempt for her is Kufr [disbelief].
Thus, gradations in society are the creation and command of Allah Ta’ala. The Khalifah, sultan or king may be a corrupt and immoral man. But, the Shariah commands obedience to him in all his lawful orders. His rank is superior to others here on earth.
In Islam women are not inferior to men in terms of the concocted meaning ascribed to ‘inferiority’ by the western kuffaar enemies of Islam.