Short Answer: Allah says in the Quran that the most honorable people are those who are most righteous, regardless of any qualifiers such as race, gender, ability, etc.
Salam and thank you for your question.
It is a dangerous misconception that women are inferior to men in Islam, as this goes directly against what Allah has said in the Qur’an:
“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.” (33:35)
Likewise, Allah also says:
“Anyone, male or female, who does right actions and is a believer, will enter the Garden. They will not be wronged by so much as the tiniest speck.” (4:124)
It is clear in these two verses that the worship of women and men carry the same reward, which is Paradise (the best reward indeed!).
Women’s worship and men’s worship are both equally required and equally valuable.
Allah also says:
“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (49:13)
This verse is commonly used to denounce racism, but it also rejects the idea that men are inherently better than women.
Allah says that the most noble/honorable people are those who are most righteous, regardless of any qualifiers such as race, gender, ability, etc.
What About Verse 4:34?
Some may argue that Chapter 4, Verse 34 of the Qur’an states that men are superior to women:
“Men are protectors of women, because Allah has bestowed some of them over others and because they spend their wealth on them…”.
In seventh-century Arabia, and even today, men have been much more involved in public life than women, often have better job opportunities than women do, and make more money than women; because of these conditions, Allah has told men that they must be providers for women.
Allah does not say in this verse that these conditions make men any “better” or more valuable than women; instead, because men generally have more societal power, they are expected to use this power to help others that have been economically and socially disadvantaged (in this case, women).
Insults and Offensive Jokes
You mentioned that you have heard people jokingly say that men, even “bad” men, are better than women.
This is untrue, as we have seen above, and it is very insulting and degrading to women.
Muslims are prohibited from insulting and speaking unkind words to other people, especially towards fellow Muslims.
Allah has said in the Qur’an:
“O you who have believed, let not a people ridicule another people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule other women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after faith. And whoever does not repent – then it is those who are the wrongdoers.” (49:11).
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“A believer is never a person who scoffs at others, calls them names, or utters vulgar and obscene phrases” (al-Tirmidhi).
Muslims that make jokes about men being superior to women, even if they are “just kidding”, are not only going against what the Qur’an says, but they are also contributing to the rampant sexism and injustices against women in our society.
Our words can have a much more powerful impact on others than we realize.
By avoiding “jokes” like this, and calling other people out on how these jokes are false and insulting, we are helping to foster a safer, more just society for everyone.
I hope that this answers your question.
Salam. Please stay in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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