Women's Rigts in Islam, by Sayed Mumtaz Ali (Part 2)

Translated by Masood Ashraf Raja (Installment 2)

The Arguments Offered in Favor of Men

Following are some of the reasons offered by those who believe that men are better than women:

  1. God has granted more physical strength to men, therefore they are privileged in all those spheres that need physical prowess and mastery. From this it is construed that governance, as it depends on physical power, is a male prerogative.
  2. Men’s mental capacities, just like their physical strength, are also relatively stronger than those of women. That is why historically women have always thought to be less intelligent and their superstitious ways, shortsightedness, and infidelity are all rooted in their weak intellect.
  3. Just as kingship is the most important institution in the material world, the Prophethood is the greatest human role in the spiritual realm. God has always appointed men as prophets but never a woman.
  4. Theologically, one verse of the Qur’an (Al Nisa) is mobilized to claim that men are “rulers over women.”
  5. Another argument offered in favor of men is that God created Adam first and then Eve as his companion. Therefore, it a woman’s role is to be a comfort to man, to obey his rule, and to prefer his comfort over her own in order to be true to her divine purpose of creation.
  6. The Qur’an equates testimony by two women to that of one man and gives half of a male share of inheritance to women. Both these statements are also used to prove that men are superior to women.
  7. As God permits men to have four wives but does not grant the same tight to women, this also is used as an argument for the divinely inspired superiority of men over women.
  8. Another argument in favor of male superiority is that the Qur’an promises them female companions in the afterlife, while women are not promised male companions in heaven.

Besides these rational and Qur’anic arguments, there are also a few other irrational mythological reasons that are offered to prove male superiority [which Munshi Inyatullah mention in his book], but I do not consider worthy of consideration.

In a nutshell these are some of the reasons-you may call them intellectual or religious, that are used by many to render one half of human population as inferior to the other half. As a result the women are reduced to a condition of obedience to men that is even worse than slavery. These arguments have made it so that even the worse kind of sinful men can still consider themselves better than women.

I will now analyze these arguments to see whether they are based in any logical reasoning or are they just falsehoods mobilized by the proponents of the status quo in order to keep the male dominance intact.

Masood Raja

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas and the author of "The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America" (Palgrave, 2016).