Misconceptions about Islam: “Islam oppresses women”:
One of the most disturbing misconceptions is the negative portrayal of women in Islam – namely that Islam degrades and oppresses women. According to the teachings of Islam, the only thing that distinguishes people in the sight of God is their level of piety.
“Verily the most honourable of you in the sight of Allah is the most God conscious” (Qur’an 49:13)
This verse proves that real honour and status is not attained because a person is rich or poor, black or white, male or female but attained through piety and devoutness. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that for every male convert to Islam four females convert. Some reasons for this overwhelming female conversion rate are due to the following rights enshrined in Islam:
Islam guaranteed these rights, among many others, to women over 1400 years ago – rights that women in the ‘West’ are still lacking.
Without doubt, there are Muslim women who are oppressed and not given their rights. However, this is not the fault of Islam. The problem is that in many places in the world, culture and traditions have come to overshadow the teachings of Islam, either through ignorance or through harmful cultural practices.
“Whoever works righteousness whether male or female, while he (or she) is a believer – We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward (in the Hereafter) according to the best of what they used to do.” (Qur’an 16:97)
While Islam enshrines the rights of women, it also acknowledges the fact that men and women are not identical. Allah says: ‘…and the male is not like the female…’ (Qur’an: 3:36)
Islam has therefore ordained different roles for men and women to reflect this indisputable fact. Women have been granted the honour and tremendous responsibility of caring for the family and the household. While Men have been given the responsibility of providing financial support, security and maintenance for the family and the household.
In conclusion, the noble position of women in Islam can be summarized by the following saying of the Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him):
“The world and all things in the world are precious, but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman.” (Sahih Muslim, 3465)