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Women in the Quran

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Women in the Quran, are introduced as members of humanity and society who have an important role in creation; just as men do. As human beings, whether we are a man or a woman, we must strive to understand and recognize this creation of God.

However, is it the gender of a person that matters in spirituality and closeness to God and perfection or their essence and soul? This and other questions regarding the role and rights of women in the Quran and their status in society, legally, in marriage, etc. will be discussed in the following article.

Facts about Women in the Quran

The only woman mentioned by name in the QuranMary or Maryam
The four women of ParadiseLady Maryam Lady Asiyah Lady Khadijah Lady Fatimah
Mothers mentioned in the QuranMother of Moses Mary, Mother of Jesus Mother of Isaac
Wives mentioned in the QuranWife of the Emperor of Egypt, Zuleykha Wife of the Pharaoh, Asiyah Wife of Ibrahim (Abraham) Wife of Abu Lahab Wife of Prophet Lut (Lot) Wife of Nuh (Noah)

The Value of a Human Being is His Soul

Before going into the discussion regarding women in the Quran, it is important to know that when talking about values or vices, and spirituality and spiritual health and illness, etc. it is not the material body or gender that is important but rather the soul; the soul must be a believing soul. 1

مَنْ عَمِلَ صَالِحًا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثىَ‏ وَ هُوَ مُؤْمِنٌ فَلَنُحْيِيَنَّهُ حَيَوةً طَيِّبَةً وَ لَنَجْزِيَنَّهُمْ أَجْرَهُم بِأَحْسَنِ مَا كَانُواْ يَعْمَلُون

Whoever does good whether male or female and he is a believer, We will most certainly make him live a happy life and We will most certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did. 2

The Requirements for a Good Life

According to the abovementioned verse, there are two things one needs to live a good and happy life:

  1. Good deeds
  2. To have a believing soul

Teaching and Education according to the Quran

The Quranic verses indicate the following regarding the teaching and education of human beings:

  • Learning and education is attributed to the soul which is neither male nor female
  • The Quran teaches us in three ways:
    • Through sensory knowledge
    • Through intellectual knowledge
    • Through spiritual and inspirational knowledge (through the heart).

In this case the Quran provides examples of men and women who have traversed these paths. 3

Conclusion regarding the Value of a Human Being

According to the above discussion, the value of a human being lies in the state of his soul and his good deeds and not the gender or material form.

However, since the article is regarding the discussion of women in the Quran, going forward the article will be dedicated to this topic.

Women Mentioned or Referred to in the Quran

There are many women in the Quran who have either been mentioned by name or referenced to. They are the following:

Mary; Asiyah, the wife of the Pharaoh of Exodus; Khadijah, the wife of Prophet Muhammad; Fatimah, the daughter of Prophet Muhammad; Eve; Hannah, the wife of Imran and mother of Mary; Safurah, the wife of Prophet Moses and daughter of Prophet Shuayb; the mother of Prophet Moses; the wife of Prophet Zechariah; the wife of Prophet Ayyub (Job); Bilquis, the Queen of Sheba; the sister of Prophet Moses; Zuleykha, the wife of the Emperor of Egypt and later wife of Prophet Joseph; Sarah and Hajar, the wives of Ibrahim.

There are also some women who have been admonished in the Quran, like the wives of Prophet Lut (Lot) and Prophet Nuh (Noah) and the wife of Abu Lahab.

Going forward, we will speak in detail about a few of them.

Who is the Only Woman Mentioned in the Quran by Name?

Among the women in the Quran, the only one mentioned by name is Lady Mary or Maryam (مریم)

وَ إِذْ قالَتِ الْمَلائِكَةُ يا مَرْيَمُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفاكِ وَ طَهَّرَكِ وَ اصْطَفاكِ عَلى‏ نِساءِ الْعالَمين

And when the angels said: O Marium! Surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world. 4

According to this verse, the angels would speak to Mary and she was able to hear them; this is a status not many people have achieved and is indeed a high position.

The Purity and Infallibility of Mary

The verse states that God has purified Mary. The purification mentioned here refers to her infallibility. 5 She was purified from disbelief through belief and faith and purified from sins through obedience to God. 6

Mary: the Chosen Woman

According to the verse, God chose Maryam. The word chosen or Istafa (اصطفی) has been used twice in the verse. The first time in an absolute sense and the second time to refer to the fact that she has been chosen over the women of the world; 7 albeit according to narrations, over women of her own time.

Mary: the Manifestation of Chastity

When God sent His angel to Mary in order to inform her that she would soon give birth to Jesus, according to the words of the Quran, the following is what Mary said to the angel:

قَالَتْ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِالرَّحْمَـٰنِ مِنكَ إِن كُنتَ تَقِيًّا

She said, ‘I seek the protection of the All-beneficent from you, should you be Godwary!’ 8

When the angel came to her, not only did Mary, not show the slightest inclination or desire towards the man she saw before her (who was an angel in a man’s form which she was at first unaware of), she also enjoined the angel before her to good and forbade him from evil and advises him too to abstain from desiring a woman forbidden to him. And this shows the height of chastity of Mary. 9

Mary: Accepted by God

The Quran narrates the following of the words of Mary’s mother:

فَلَمَّا وَضَعَتْهَا قَالَتْ رَبِّ إِنِّي وَضَعْتُهَا أُنثَىٰ وَاللَّـهُ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا وَضَعَتْ وَلَيْسَ الذَّكَرُ كَالْأُنثَىٰ ۖ وَإِنِّي سَمَّيْتُهَا مَرْيَمَ وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ﴿36﴾

When she bore her, she said, ‘My Lord, I have borne a female [child]’—and Allah knew better what she had borne, and the male [child she expected] was no match for the female [child she had borne] —‘and I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Your care against [the evil of] the outcast Satan.’

فَتَقَبَّلَهَا رَبُّهَا بِقَبُولٍ حَسَنٍ… ﴿37﴾

Thereupon her Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance… ’ 10

Many conditions are required for a person to reach such a stage where not only does a person gift and dedicate their child to God, but that God also accepts that child. This shows not only the high status of Lady Maryam but also her mother.

Certain action of people might be accepted by God, but they might not themselves be wholly and in essence accepted by Him. It is this giving by Mary’s mother and God’s acceptance that resulted in Mary’s purity and chastity when the angel visited her. 11

Referenced Women in the Quran

There are four women that are referenced in surah Tahrim. However, three of them have not been named. Two of them are called the wives of Prophet Noah and Lot whom the Quran makes ill mention of them. The third one is the wife of the Pharaoh who has not been named, and Mary the daughter of ‘Imran whose has been mentioned.

Lady Asiyah

وَ ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِّلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبّ‏ِ ابْنِ لىِ عِندَكَ بَيْتًا فىِ الْجَنَّةِ وَ نجَّنىِ مِن فِرْعَوْنَ وَ عَمَلِهِ وَ نجَّنىِ مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِين

Allah draws an example for those who have faith: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord! Build me a home near You in paradise, and deliver me from Pharaoh and his conduct, and deliver me from the wrongdoing lot.” ’ 12

In this verse, Asiyah, the daughter of Muzahim and wife of the Pharaoh of Exodus, is mentioned as a role model for all those who have faith and this point is very important – that she is a role model for all the faithful not just the faithful women.

Note: in the following verse, Lady Mary is also mentioned in the same vein, i.e. a role model for believers.

The Four Superior Women of Heaven

افضل نساء اهل الجنة خديجة بنت خويلد، و فاطمة بنت محمد (ص)، و مريم بنت عمران، و آسيه بنت مزاحم، امرأة فرعون!

The most superior women of Heaven are: Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwaylid; Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon him and his household); Maryam (Mary), the daughter of Imran and Asiyah, the daughter of Muzahim and wife of the Pharaoh.’

Lady Khadijah

وَ وَجَدَكَ عائِلاً فَأَغْنى

Did He not find you needy, and enrich you?’ 13

Although this verse does not directly refer to Lady Khadijah (خدیجة), the wife of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), it is a reference to her.

Khadijah (peace be upon her) was the richest women among the Arabs of her time. She accepted Islam and proposed marriage to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). When they were married, she gave all her wealth to him to spend in the propagation of Islam and to help the Muslims.

Khadijah’s Act is Counted as God’s Act

This verse is connected to a verse prior to this one where God is recounting the blessings He bestowed upon Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) for him.

The high status of Lady Khadijah is shown in this verse where God is attributing her good action to Himself and mentions it as one of the blessings that He bestowed upon the Prophet.

Lady Fatimah

فَمَنْ حَاجَّكَ فِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءَكَ مِنَ الْعِلْمِ فَقُلْ تَعَالَوْاْ نَدْعُ أَبْنَاءَنَا وَ أَبْنَاءَكمُ‏ْ وَ نِسَاءَنَا وَ نِسَاءَكُمْ وَ أَنفُسَنَا وَ أَنفُسَكُمْ ثُمَّ نَبْتهَلْ فَنَجْعَل لَّعْنَتَ اللَّهِ عَلىَ الْكَذِبِين

If anyone disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee, say: “Come! Let us gather together, – our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves: Then let us earnestly pray, and invoke the curse of Allah on those who lie!” 14

The Event of Mubahela (مباهله)

When the Christians of Najran came to the Prophet to argue about Jesus and how he is the son of God because he was born without a father, the Prophet gave them the example of Prophet Adam and how he was born without both parents. When they did not accept his arguments, the Prophet invited them to Mubahela.

Mubahela is that two groups of people gather together and humble themselves before God and invoke the curse of God upon the liars and the ones who are wrong and deviated. 15 The goal of Mubahela is not to simply invoke the curse and then disperse. Rather, it is that the prayer is granted and through the manifestation of its consequences, the liars are recognized and punished. 16

Fatimah is the Woman the Prophet took

In this event, according to the verse, the Prophet invited the Christians to bring their sons, women and their closest people whom he refers here to as ‘ourselves.’ The Prophet brought Hasan and Hussain, the sons of Fatimah and Imam Ali as his sons, Lady Fatimah as the woman and Imam Ali as ‘himself’, i.e. indicating that he and Ali were one.

The fact that Lady Fatimah was the only woman he brought shows the high and unique status of Lady Fatimah.

Other Verses that have been Attributed to Lady Fatimah

There are other verses in the Quran where, although she has not been indicated or mentioned specifically, however, she is included in the reference of the verses and they apply to her; some of them are:

  1. One of the interpretations of Kausar (کوثر) in the chapter of this name (chapter 74), is Lady Fatimah.
  2. Verse 33 of chapter 33, i.e. the verse known as the verse of purification where God states that He has kept away all impurities from the Ahlulbayt; Fatimah is included in the Ahlulbayt along with the Prophet himself, her sons Hasan and Hussain and Imam Ali (peace be upon them all).
  3. She is also included in another one of the verses which have been revealed in virtue and praise of the five abovementioned personalities; when they gave all their food to the beggar, the orphan and the prisoner out of love for God and He praised them highly for this event. See verses 8-22 of chapter 76 for this event.

Defending Religion and Women in the Quran

The Quran makes mention of certain women who played a crucial role in the fate of Prophet Moses. This shows the importance of women in the Quran. God, through three women saved one of his great prophets, who would come to deliver the Children of Israel from the clutches of the evil Pharaoh.

Three Women in the Quran who Saved Moses from Death

The Quran mentions three women who saved Prophet Moses from death and brought him up, as examples:

  1. The mother of Moses
  2. The sister of Moses
  3. The wife of the Pharaoh of Exodus, Asiyah

These three women fought against the political system of that time in order for this Prophet to be raised. 17

The Mother of Musa

Regarding the mother of Moses, the Quran states:

وَأَوْحَيْنَا إِلَىٰ أُمِّ مُوسَىٰ أَنْ أَرْضِعِيهِ ۖ فَإِذَا خِفْتِ عَلَيْهِ فَأَلْقِيهِ فِي الْيَمِّ وَلَا تَخَافِي وَلَا تَحْزَنِي ۖ إِنَّا رَادُّوهُ إِلَيْكِ وَجَاعِلُوهُ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ

We revealed to Moses’ mother, [saying], ‘Nurse him; then, when you fear for him, cast him into the river, and do not fear or grieve, for We will restore him to you and make him one of the apostles.’ 18

The Sister of Moses

وَقَالَتْ لِأُخْتِهِ قُصِّيهِ ۖ فَبَصُرَتْ بِهِ عَن جُنُبٍ وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ ﴿11﴾

We revealed to Moses’ mother, [saying], ‘Nurse him; then, when you fear for him, cast him into the river, and do not fear or grieve, for We will restore him to you and make him one of the apostles.’

وَحَرَّمْنَا عَلَيْهِ الْمَرَاضِعَ مِن قَبْلُ فَقَالَتْ هَلْ أَدُلُّكُمْ عَلَىٰ أَهْلِ بَيْتٍ يَكْفُلُونَهُ لَكُمْ وَهُمْ لَهُ نَاصِحُونَ ﴿12﴾

We revealed to Moses’ mother, [saying], ‘Nurse him; then, when you fear for him, cast him into the river, and do not fear or grieve, for We will restore him to you and make him one of the apostles.’ 19

It was not easy to follow the chest in which Moses’ mother had placed him in the river up to the palace and nor was it easy to go the palace and give a suggestion for a wet nurse for Moses since any woman who was able to nurse a child had to have herself given birth and this would have aroused suspicion and placed his mother in danger. In addition, his mother’s pregnancy and his birth had been a secret and she could have been asked about the gender of her child. 20

The Wife of the Pharaoh

As mentioned above, Asiyah was the wife of the Pharaoh of Exodus who was the ruler of Egypt at that time and due to whom the lives of the mothers and sons due to be born at that time were in danger; including Moses.

However, when Asiyah comes upon the basket bearing Moses she says to her husband:

وَقَالَتِ امْرَأَتُ فِرْعَوْنَ قُرَّتُ عَيْنٍ لِّي وَلَكَ ۖ لَا تَقْتُلُوهُ عَسَىٰ أَن يَنفَعَنَا أَوْ نَتَّخِذَهُ وَلَدًا وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ

Pharaoh’s wife said [to him], ‘[This infant will be] a [source of] comfort to me and to you. Do not kill him. Maybe he will benefit us, or we will adopt him as a son.’ But they were not aware. 21

It was very courageous of her to give such a suggestion at such a sensitive time to the cruelest and most blood-thirsty person of that time. 22

Conclusions of this Discussion

From that which has been discussed in this part and other discussions above, we can make the following is clear:

  • When it comes to situations of anger and physical (carnal) appetite, it is the women and their chastity and modesty that has held the responsibility of performing the most distinct actions for the protection of the Abrahamic religions.
  • There is no part of spiritual faculties in which only men are the leaders and women are not part of. However:
    • Women must recognize their circumstances
    • Others must respect these circumstances
    • They must make the (required) facilities available;

It is only then that in case of being tested, it can be evaluated how successful a woman can be and how much a man can progress. 23

The Equality of Men and Women in the Quran

In worship, perfection and spirituality and in fact, in essence and soul, there is no difference between men and women:

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّـهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّـهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

Indeed the Muslim men and the Muslim women, the faithful men and the faithful women, the obedient men and the obedient women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and the humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women, the men who fast and the women who fast, the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, the men who remember Allah greatly and the women who remember [Allah greatly]—Allah holds in store for them forgiveness and a great reward. 24

The Most Honored in the Eyes of God

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا ۚ إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّـهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware. 25

There is no difference between men and women in terms of rewards; rather, what distinguishes people from one another is their piety. They are one in essence and both have the ability to recognize God, gain knowledge, attain closeness to God, and to attain the highest level of perfection. 26

Rights of Women in the Quran

Although many rights are mentioned regarding women in the Quran, we will discuss a part of them only in this article.

The Right to Live for Women in the Quran

At the time when the Quran was revealed, the Arabs of the Age of Ignorance gave no importance to women; a female child was buried alive and women were treated as property with no rights of their own.

But when the Quran was revealed, God admonished them for their actions:

وَإِذَا الْمَوْءُودَةُ سُئِلَتْ ﴿8﴾

When the girl buried-alive will be asked,

بِأَيِّ ذَنبٍ قُتِلَتْ ﴿9﴾

for what sin she was killed. 27

The verse refers to Qiyamah when every person will have to account for their deeds. 28

Honor of Women in the Quran

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَرْمُونَ الْمُحْصَنَاتِ الْغَافِلَاتِ الْمُؤْمِنَاتِ لُعِنُوا فِي الدُّنْيَا وَالْآخِرَةِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

Indeed those who accuse chaste and unwary faithful women shall be cursed in this world and the Hereafter, and there shall be a great punishment for them. 29

Those who make unfounded accusations against chaste and modest women and question their honor will be punished. 30

Respect of Women in the Quran

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا يَسْخَرْ قَوْمٌ مِّن قَوْمٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُونُوا خَيْرًا مِّنْهُمْ وَلَا نِسَاءٌ مِّن نِّسَاءٍ عَسَىٰ أَن يَكُنَّ خَيْرًا مِّنْهُنَّ ۖ وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ ۖ بِئْسَ الِاسْمُ الْفُسُوقُ بَعْدَ الْإِيمَانِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَتُبْ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong. 31

No one is allowed to make fun of or ridicule others, be they men or women as everyone is honorable and deserves respect. 32

Financial Support for Women in the Quran

Even though Islam does not forbid or stop women from working and earning their own money, however, it is the responsibility of a man to provide for his spouse regardless:

أَسْكِنُوهُنَّ مِنْ حَيْثُ سَكَنتُم مِّن وُجْدِكُمْ وَلَا تُضَارُّوهُنَّ لِتُضَيِّقُوا عَلَيْهِنَّ… لِيُنفِقْ ذُو سَعَةٍ مِّن سَعَتِهِ ۖ وَمَن قُدِرَ عَلَيْهِ رِزْقُهُ فَلْيُنفِقْ مِمَّا آتَاهُ اللَّـهُ…

House them where you live, in accordance with your means, and do not harass them to put them in straits… Let the affluent man spend out of his affluence, and let he whose provision has been tightened spend out of what Allah has given him… 33

The Quran explains certain legal rights of women. This includes different things that are related to women such as their dowry and right of inheritance.

1. Dowry

وَ ءَاتُواْ النِّسَاءَ صَدُقَاتهِنَّ نحِلَةً فَإِن طِبْنَ لَكُمْ عَن شىَ‏ْءٍ مِّنْهُ نَفْسًا فَكلُوهُ هَنِيًا مَّرِيًا

Give women their dowries as an obligation; but if they remit anything of it of their own accord, then consume it as [something] lawful and wholesome. 34

2. Right of Inheritance for Women in the Quran

Women, like men, have right of inheritance. The Quran has specified how much a woman can inherit from a deceased person.

Inheriting from Parents

…وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ ۚ نَصِيبًا مَّفْرُوضًا

… And women have a share in the heritage left by parents and near relatives, whether it be little or much, a share ordained [by Allah]. 35

This verse indicates a general rule that applies to all women, which is that they have a share in the inheritance left behind by their parents.

Inheriting from the Husband

… وَ لَهُنَّ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَإِن كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَلَهُنَّ الثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُم مِّن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ…

And for them [it shall be] a fourth of what you leave, if you have no children; but if you have children, then for them shall be an eighth of what you leave, after [paying off] any bequest you may have made or any debt [you may have incurred]. 36

Inheriting from the Children

… وَ لِأَبَوَيْهِ لِكلُ‏ِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنهْمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كاَنَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلَدٌ وَ وَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلِأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ فَإِن كاَنَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلِأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصىِ بهِا أَوْ دَيْن…

… And for each of his parents a sixth of what he leaves, if he has children; but if he has no children, and his parents are his [sole] heirs, then it shall be a third for his mother; but if he has brothers, then a sixth for his mother, after [paying off] any bequest he may have made or any debt [he may have incurred]. 37

Social Rights for Women in the Quran

…وَ عَاشرِوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِن كَرِهْتُمُوهُنَّ فَعَسىَ أَن تَكْرَهُواْ شَيْا وَ يجَعَلَ اللَّهُ فِيهِ خَيرْا كَثِيرًا

… Consort with them in an honourable manner; and should you dislike them, maybe you dislike something while Allah invests it with an abundant good. 38

Among the rights mentioned in this verse, are the social rights that must be afforded to women.

Women have equal rights as men in the society and are equal members of it. 39 As such, they must be allowed into society. And if some people might not like this, the Quran states that they are unjustified and wrong to think so and the Quran commands them to bear this because there might be things that people dislike, however, God has endowed it with good; as He has in this case. 40

What is Marouf (معروف)?

The word Marouf (honorably or favorably) used in the verse refers to something that both the intellect and religion formally recognize as good. And that which they do not recognize as such is known as Munkar (منکر) or the repudiated. 41

Explanation of the Verse 4:34 of the Quran

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلىَ النِّسَاءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلىَ‏ بَعْضٍ وَ بِمَا أَنفَقُواْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّلِحَتُ قَنِتَاتٌ حَفِظَتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللَّهُ…

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded… 42

The Main Points to Note in this Part of the Verse

  • This verse is speaking not of men and women in general but rather a man and a woman who are married to each other.
  • That man is referred to as a sustainer in this verse is not a sign of being closer to God than women or of superior perfection.
  • It is an execute responsibility much like a manger in a company; however, it is possible that a mere worker is more sincere in his work than that manger and is more dear to God.
  • A man is more capable in social and economic matters and acquiring wealth and providing for the necessities of the family and since it is a man’s responsibility to provide for his family; the managing of the house is also on him. This is a duty not a merit
  • This verse is not stating that a woman is the slave and prisoner of her husband and that a man can act as he wishes towards her. It is not a one-way rule. But rather both have certain duties in a marriage.
  • In other situations, sometimes a woman is the caretaker and sustainer of a man and sometimes it is vice versa.
  • This verse is only speaking of man’s sustainment of women in the family life at home, 43 and does not apply to other situations like her beliefs, choices, etc. 

Hijab and Women in the Quran

وَ قُل لِّلْمُؤْمِنَاتِ يَغْضُضْنَ مِنْ أَبْصَرِهِنَّ وَ يحَْفَظْنَ فُرُوجَهُنَّ وَ لَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَ لْيَضْرِبْنَ بخِمُرِهِنَّ عَلىَ‏ جُيُوبهِنَّ وَ لَا يُبْدِينَ زِينَتَهُنَّ إِلَّا لِبُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَائهِنَّ أَوْ ءَابَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَائهِنَّ أَوْ أَبْنَاءِ بُعُولَتِهِنَّ أَوْ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنىِ إِخْوَانِهِنَّ أَوْ بَنىِ أَخَوَاتِهِنَّ أَوْ نِسَائهِنَّ أَوْ مَا مَلَكَتْ أَيْمَانُهُنَّ أَوِ التَّابِعِينَ غَيرْ أُوْلىِ الْارْبَةِ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ أَوِ الطِّفْلِ الَّذِينَ لَمْ يَظْهَرُواْ عَلىَ‏ عَوْرَاتِ النِّسَاءِ وَ لَا يَضْرِبْنَ بِأَرْجُلِهِنَّ لِيُعْلَمَ مَا يخُفِينَ مِن زِينَتِهِنَّ وَ تُوبُواْ إِلىَ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا أَيُّهَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لَعَلَّكمُ‏ْ تُفْلِحُون

And tell the believing women to lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms, and not to reveal their adornment save to their own husbands or fathers or husbands’ fathers, or their sons or their husbands’ sons, or their brothers or their brothers’ sons or sisters’ sons, or their women, or their slaves, or male attendants who lack vigor, or children who know naught of women’s nakedness. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And turn unto Allah together, O believers, in order that ye may succeed. 44

What is the Purpose and Philosophy of Wearing Hijab?

One can mention multiple reasons and purposes for why hijab is a must for women:

1. Human Dignity

As a human being, our human dignity and respect is one of the most important parts of our life; particularly our social life. When a woman becomes a means to promote products, as a decor for waiting rooms, as a thing that attracts tourists and travelers, etc. in such a society there is no value placed on the personality of women as a person and her lofty human value is forgotten. Her youth and honor and her apparent appearance is considered her only honor and value.

Thus, a woman is transformed into a means to satisfy the desires of a group of deceitful and corrupt people. How can a woman shine in such a society through her moral characteristics, knowledge, awareness and wisdom and hold a high position? 45

2. Spread of Corruption

The spread of corruption and increase in the number of illegitimate children is one of the most painful consequences of not observing hijab. Although one cannot say that this is the sole factor and that there certainly are others that contribute to this, it is, however, one of the most effective factors in this issue. 46

3. Increase in Divorce Rates

Documented statistics show that with the increase in inappropriate dressing in the society, the number of divorces and broken families has also continuously increased.

In a society where hijab is observed, the husband and wife belong to each other and their love, emotions and passion only belong to each other.

However, in a society where a woman is like a common commodity which anyone can look upon in all states of dress or undress, the sanctity of marriage holds no meaning and families very easily break apart, leaving children without a safe and healthy environment. 47

4. Social and Mental Health

Physical desire is one of the strongest and deeply rooted of man’s instincts and a society in which modest dressing and hijab is not observed, is a society that constantly places one in an atmosphere where one constantly faces scenes and situations where one’s senses are excited.

According to psychologists, constant excitement results in illness and mental issues as well. Is it then not playing with fire to create such a society and atmosphere where this instinct and sense is constantly enflamed and excited? Is it logical to allow such a danger to arise?

A Soul at Peace

Islam wishes that men and women have a soul and spirit that is at peace, healthy nerves, and pure sight and hearing and this is one of the philosophies of making hijab obligatory on both men and women.

Yes, according to verses of the Quran and Islamic teachings, men also have hijab, however, it is different to that of women and those who are interested can refer to the relevant books in this regard. 48

Marriage and Women in the Quran

وَ مِنْ آياتِهِ أَنْ خَلَقَ لَكُمْ مِنْ أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَزْواجاً لِتَسْكُنُوا إِلَيْها وَ جَعَلَ بَيْنَكُمْ مَوَدَّةً وَ رَحْمَةً إِنَّ في‏ ذلِكَ لَآياتٍ لِقَوْمٍ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ

And one of His signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you may find rest in them, and He put between you love and compassion; most surely there are signs in this for a people who reflect. 49

Men and women complete each other, physically as well as emotionally and psychologically. It is due to this need for completion that they are attracted towards each other so that they may find perfection. 50

A Wife and Tranquility

The purpose of marriage is peace and tranquility and this is one of the greatest of God’s gifts.

This tranquility stems from the fact that a man and a woman complete each other and are the cause of prosperity, happiness, and nourishment of each other in a way that each is incomplete without the other and it is natural that there would be such an attraction between a person and another who completes it.

This tranquility is physical, as well as emotional and spiritual; individual, as well as social. 51

According to the verse, the woman is the source of this tranquility and peace.

Quran on Love and Mercy between Men and Women in the Quran

The Arabic word for love used in this verse is Mawaddah (مودة). This word does not refer to simply love that is a feeling but rather, refers to love whose effects are manifested through action.

Mercy, on the hand is a feeling that a person has towards someone who is deprived of, or does not have a particular perfection or goodness and needs their deficiency to be removed and eliminated. The person who feels this for another strives to eliminate the other’s needs and provide salvation from that which he lacks. 52

It is this type of love (i.e. mawaddah) and mercy which are the factors needed for the survival and continuation of tranquility in married life and they are both needed together. 53

The Status of a Mother in the Quran

وَ وَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسانَ بِوالِدَيْهِ إِحْساناً حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهاً وَ وَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهاً وَ حَمْلُهُ وَ فِصالُهُ ثَلاثُونَ شَهْراً…

We have enjoined man to be kind to his parents. His mother has carried him in travail, and bore him in travail, and his gestation and weaning take thirty months… 54

There are two categories of verses that speak of parents:

  1. Verses that mention their common rights
  2. Verses that speak specifically of the rights of a mother

However, as observed in the abovementioned mentioned verse, when the Quran speaks of the troubles that are there in bringing the child into this world, it speaks only of the mother and the pains she bears to do and indicated them as a service that she performs.

However, other verses that speak of the father do so in terms of the responsibilities he has to his children.

This indicates the specific reverence and respect that Islam gives to mothers. 55


That which has been mentioned in this article is but a drop in the ocean of the discussion of women in the Quran and her position, status, rights and responsibilities in the eyes of Islam. Those who are interested in learning more in this regard, may refer to the books written in this regard; for example: ‘the Status of Women in Islam’; ‘the Rights of Women in Islam’, etc.


  1. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. p. 42. (Digital version)
  2. [16: 97]. Shakir translation
  3. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. p. 49. (Digital version)
  4. [3: 46]. Shakir translation
  5. Tabatabai, M. H. (1374 AP). Tafsir al-Mizan. (Transl. by Muhammad Baqer Musawi Hamedani). Qom: Jamiat al-Modarresin. Vol. 3, p. 295.
  6. Tabarsi, F. (1360 AP). Majma‘ al-Bayab fi Tafsir al-Quran. (Transl. by a group of translators). Research by Reza Sutudeh. Tehran: Farahani Publications. Vol. 4, p. 65.
  7. Tafsir-i Namuneh. Vol. 2, p. 542.
  8. [19: 18]. Qarai translation
  9. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. pp. 79-80.
  10. [3: 36-37]. Qarai translation
  11. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. p. 80.
  12. [66: 110]. Qarai translation
  13. [93: 8]. Qarai translation
  14. [3: 61]. Yusufali translation
  15. Tafsir-i Noor. Vol. 2, p. 75.
  16. Tafsir-i Namuneh. vol. 2, p. 580.
  17. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. p. 81.
  18. [28: 7]. Qarai translation
  19. [28: 11-12]. Qarai translation
  20. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. pp. 81-82.
  21. [28: 9]. Qarai translation
  22. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. p. 82.
  23. Ibid. p. 82.
  24. [33: 35]. Qarai translation
  25. [49: 13]. Qarai translation
  26. Pakari, A review of the role of women in the Quran. (Article)
  27. [81: 8-9]. Qarai translation
  28. 11 rights for women in the Quran. (Article)
  29. [24: 23]. Qarai translation
  30. 11 rights for women in the Quran. (Article)
  31. [49: 11]. Yusufali translation
  32. 11 rights for women in the Quran. (Article)
  33. [65: 6 & 7]. Qarai translation
  34. [4: 4]. Qarai translation
  35. [4: 7]. Qarai translation
  36. [4: 12]. Qarai translation
  37. [4: 11]. Qarai translation
  38. [4: 19]. Qarai translation.
  39. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. vol. 4, p. 405.
  40. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty
  41. Ibid.
  42. [4: 36]. Shakir translation
  43. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty
  44. [24: 31]. Pickthall translation
  45. Tafsir-i Nemuneh. vol. 14, pp. 445-446.
  46. Ibid, pp. 444-445.
  47. Ibid, p. 444.
  48. Ibid, pp. 443-444.
  49. [30: 21]. Shakir translation
  50. Tabatabai, M. H. Ibid. vol. 16, p. 249.
  51. Tafsir-i Nemuneh. N. Ibid. vol. 16, p. 391.
  52. Tabatabai, M.H. Ibid. vol. 16, p. 250.
  53. Qarati, M. Ibid. vol. 9, p. 189.
  54. [46: 15]. Qarai translation
  55. Women in the Mirror of Majesty and Beauty. p. 97.
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