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Equal Treatment for Sons and Daughters

Adil Salahi

Arab News, 5/16/04

Q. What does Islam say about the treatment of daughters? I am referring here to the numerous cases where daughters are ill treated, given a position inferior to that of their brothers, degraded in front of others, forced into marriages which they do not accept, thought of as a burden, and made to feel at every turn that their birth was an accident of ill-luck for the family.

M. Niazi

A. Islam treats men and women equally. There are differences in Islamic rules that apply to men and women, but these are generally in favor of women, even when they appear to be the other way. This equality appears basically in the fact that men and women have the same duties and stand to earn the same reward for their good deeds, and incur the same punishment for their sins.

However, Islam recognizes that women are liable to be at the receiving end of ill treatment, abuse and other forms of injustice. It started in a community that treated women as physically, mentally and intellectually inferior to men. Hence, the Qur’an and the Prophet (peace be upon him) stress the equality of the two sexes in clear terms. The Qur’anic address always applies to men and women equally. At no instance is there any address to men only. Yet there are instances where women are addressed in the Qur’an on their own, with matters that apply to them only. We do not find in these any instance where women are told that their position is inferior or subordinate to that of men.

On the contrary, Islam stresses equality of treatment of sons and daughters. When a woman told the Prophet that her father forced her into a marriage with a cousin of his, hoping to achieve a better social position for himself, the Prophet made it clear that this was wrong and nullified the marriage. The woman then declared that she approved what her father had done, but she wanted to make clear to all Muslims that men have no power over women.

If a father marries his daughter to someone without her consent, the marriage must be nullified by a Muslim judge if she puts the case to him.

In treating our children, the Prophet makes clear that giving precedence to daughters is encouraged. This must remain within the overall requirement of equality. It is to redress the long entrenched outlook of treating girls as inferior. Moreover, the Prophet stresses the importance of taking good care of one’s daughters. He says: “Whoever has two daughters and brings them up well, and treats them kindly, will be my companion in heaven, like these two (pointing with his two fingers).” His companions say that they understood that this also applies to a man with one daughter.

Numerous are the Hadiths that stress the importance of taking good care of women. The Prophet says: “Take good care of women.” When he did his pilgrimage, he delivered a speech in which he outlined the basic principles of Islam. Kindness to women, particularly to one’s wife, is emphatically stressed. On his deathbed, the Prophet kept repeating three injunctions of great importance. He said: “Attend to your prayers. Be kind to your slaves and never assign to them tasks that they cannot cope with. Fear God in your treatment of women.”

As you see, from start to finish, in legislation and recommendation, Islam stresses women’s equality with men and the need to be kind to them.



Earth, a planet hungry for peace


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers (Ran Cohen, pmc, 5/24/03).


The Israeli apartheid (security) wall around Palestinian population centers in the West Bank, like a Python. (Alquds,10/25/03).

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