Wa Alaykam Assalam Dear Sister,
Thank you for contacting us with your questions.
I will try to address each one of your concerns and questions separately, insha’Allah.
Women’s Intellect and Punishments
Now on to your next question. It is true, that there does exist a hadith that mentions Muslim women being deficient as compared to men, in intellect and religion, respectively. Sadly, this hadith is also widely used today by misogynists and feminists alike, to paint a negative image of how Islam purportedly treats women.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a very truthful person, who spoke nothing but the truth. A cursory glance at the history of mankind in every era, clearly shows that few women have achieved what men have, because of their economic and social circumstances.
Even though this is changing in the contemporary world, the fact remains that, throughout history, women have been constrained due to their nature, ethos, and circumstances, to not be able to achieve as much as men in the fields traditionally dominated by the latter.
Fields such as governance, military, medicine, science, and administration have historically excluded women (except the rare exceptions), despite their innate talents and skills. If someone states this as a fact, it does not mean that he or she is putting women down. Rather, it is the truth.
The reason why the capital punishments in Islam are equal for men and women, despite their so-called differences in intellect and religion, is because both are held equally accountable for their sins.
A woman cannot blame her sin on her deficient intellect or religion, rather, she has been granted as much of an equal free will as a man, to either resist an evil action, or to commit it.
Each human soul has been born with the same innate vices and tendencies to commit evil, such as greed, envy, hatred, and anger. Hence, both are given the same capital punishments, if they commit evil deeds.
Purpose of a Woman’s Existence
Now for your last question. To put it simply, no, even if it might appear to be so, a woman’s sole purpose in life is not to please her husband, or to bear him as many children as possible. This is not the purpose for which she was created. Her purpose in life is to worship Allah, period. Just like it is a man’s.
The role of pleasing a husband and bearing children is emphasized for married Muslim women only, but you might have noticed that many married Muslim women cannot bear children, or they get divorced or widowed. So how can Allah obligate something upon a woman i.e. marriage and motherhood, if He Himself decrees for her not to have it?
Many Muslim women do not get (or stay) married, despite wanting to enjoy domestic bliss. This is especially true for revert sisters in the West. Many do not bear any children, such as our mother Aishah bint Abi Bakr. Maryam, the mother of Jesus (peace be upon them), never got married either.
The point is, that even though some patriarchal Muslim societies in the world today socially obligate marriage and motherhood upon women, there will still be many who will live single and/or childless — either by fate, or choice. They should never think that they do not have any meaningful purpose in life.
Muslim women can — and should — pursue positive and meaningful occupations that make them beneficial members of society. They should adhere to the limits and rules of Islam, and contribute to the fields of knowledge and business.
Islam emancipated women from the cultural domination of men, enabling them to inherit, own property, seek knowledge, teach, run a business, employ workers, and earn wages in return for providing skills or services.
Now, during this digitally connected, post-industrial-revolution ‘Internet era’ of virtual connectivity, women have gained enormous advantages via the ease of means.
The Internet now allows them to contribute to the world without needing to undertake physically taxing travails i.e. the rigorous manual labor and traveling that was required to get anything done throughout history, up till a century or so ago.
Sister, you should appreciate the priceless blessing of Islam that Allah has given you, and gain deep knowledge of the Quran and sunnah in order to remain steadfast upon the truth and dispel doubts.
I hope this helps address your concerns.
Salam and please remain in touch.