The Spiritual Status of Women in Islam
Many times topics like ‘rights of women in Islam’ are written about and talked about but perhaps in the western thinker’s mind there is another topic related to the rights of women that isn’t talked about much. Western women think about it much more than men and every time we encounter external friends in our community functions, we feel the hints of thoughts around this topic in the external friends’ mind. This topic is the spiritual status of women in Islam. It is a topic that has been underdone and needs analytical discussion more and more these days. Therefore, I’m going to have a go at this topic. This article could also serve to remind my fellow Muslim sisters of their special spiritual status awarded to them by God.
What we so often forget is that God has honoured women by giving her value in relation to God not in relation to men. But as western feminism erases God from the scene, there is no standard left but men. As a result the western feminists are forced to find their value in relation to men. And in so doing they have accepted a faulty assumption. They has accepted that men is the standard, and thus women can never be a full human being until they become just like a men or please them. When a man cuts his hair short, she wants to cut her hair short too. When a man joins the army, she wants to join the army too. She wants these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had it. Also once men become the standard, the women will naturally try to please them. This in itself has caused many problems which this society has turned a blind eye to.
What women didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness–not their sameness. As God says …the male was not like the female… [3:37]
In Chapter 4 Al-Nisa Verse 33, God says:
…Men shall have a share of that which they have earned and women a share of that which they have earned… [4:33]
The above verse is a clear proof that in the sight of God, men and women are equal as far as the spiritual status is concerned.
In another verse God says:
Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him — Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward. [33:36]
As far as the matter is concerned from Allah, women and men have equal status as shown in the above verses.
…I will allow not the work of any worker from among you, whether male or female, to be lost… [3:196]
This verse above shows that any work will not be judged upon by the gender.
The Controversy behind menstruation
During the period of menstruation, women are not allowed to pray, touch the holy Qur’an directly, hold fast and a few other things and so for many this is a time of sadness, women cannot do even the most basic of acts which make them Muslim. They feel as though they are less of a Muslim because of this. So I decided that this question needed answers and after doing much research I would like to share with all my sisters in faith and external friends.
Many people have a hard time answering such a question either because it makes them uncomfortable or because it is such a topic that they themselves don’t know the answer of. I was of the latter. Our menstrual cycles are a part of Allah’s creation and something that is ordained by Him. God tells us in the Qur’an that Surely, We have created man in the best make [95:5]. We are also told that “For everything has Allah appointed a measure.” [65:4] for everything and that “For every term there is a divine decree.” [13:39]. Thus, to complain about it would be to question the Wisdom of God. This is not anything to feel sad or inconvenienced about, but rather it should be accepted as part of the Divine Wisdom. Menstruation periods are the gateway for having a child and having a child is a blessing bestowed by God Himself.
This same message was conveyed to us by Ayesha (may God be please with her) via the saying of the Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him)
Ayesha narrates that, “We set out with the sole intention of performing Hajj and when we reached Sarif, my menses began. The Messenger of Allah (saw) came to me while I was crying and asked, ‘What is the matter with you? Has your menses started?’ I replied, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This is something which Allah has destined for the daughter of Adam.’” (Al-Hakim)
Women, although forbidden to pray and perform various other religious acts, do not lose value in the sight of God. The reason why women are prevented from performing such acts is due to hygiene. Everything we do influences our soul and cleanliness too influences the soul. It is important to keep clean during prayer and since this isn’t possible during menstruation period, God has allowed women a little break during that time. As God says …Allah desires not that He should place you in a difficulty… [5:7]
Medically speaking, it is strongly discouraged to have sexual intercourse during menstruation period due to uncleanliness. The Holy Qur’an too does not allow believing men to approach their wives during that period as highlighted in this verse:
And they ask thee concerning menstruation. Say: ‘It is a harmful thing, so keep away from women during menstruation, and go not in unto them until they are clean… [2:223]
There many other acts that woman may engage in during the menstruation cycle which can help them to attain a high spiritual status:
- You can still hold the Qur’an and read it as long as you do not touch it directly by keeping a cloth between your hands and the Qur’an
- You can still recite all of the prayers; meaning like prayer after waking up or prayer before eating and so forth
- You can build up on religious knowledge by reading one of many Islamic books available
- If during Ramadan you want to be able to read the Quran, then recite verses that you already know off by heart (and so not touching the Quran directly) or you may also have someone hold the Quran for you so that you may read, or use one of the stands and also you may ask for someone else to recite for you and you can sit and listen
- You can also do tabligh and so spread the message of Islam and attend religious events to obtain knowledge, spread knowledge or even make tabligh contacts
- You can offer up your services to humanity, so for example, doing charity work, feeding the homeless or anything of that nature
- When at mosque, you can attend meetings, Jumma, deliver speeches presentations, clean the prayer hall or help prepare food for everyone
- Women can also go on Ummrah
It is thought that women cannot hold the Holy Qur’an during the period, we can, just cannot touch it directly. Please see this eloquent answer given by Hazrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (mercy of God be upon him) Fourth Successor to the Promised Messiah (peace be upon him)
What’s interesting is that despite being let off from praying and performing some religious acts, women are still seen equally by God and can still achieve a high spiritual status if they wish to. If there’s anyone to complain, it should be men actually.
So as you can see it doesn’t matter whether you are a woman or a man as Quran states
…whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter Heaven, and shall not be wronged even as much as the little hollow in the back of a date-stone. [4:145]
I hope this has answered all your questions regarding this matter, if it hasn’t, leave me a comment down below and God willing I’ll try to answer it. If you liked this article, please share it with others.