Are Women Valued According to Faith or Virginity?

07 June, 2021
Q Is women’s religious faith the most valuable thing or her virginity / honor/izzat is most valuable thing according to Islam?

When she is raped, people tell her, she has lost her most valuable thing named honor/izzat.

And the victim herself thinks all hopes are at end. Please kindly help me to understand the truth.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Dear Sister, this is, unfortunately, a cultural attitude that is based on misogynistic ideas against women. It is not an Islamic concept or a religious concept of any faith practice.

Religion does not advocate for this type of judgment.

Present proper information which is a good reminder then let them make their own choices.

I strongly suggest personal counseling for any woman who has been sexually abused. 



Assalamu alaikum,

Thank you for taking the time to write in and trust us with your concerns. It is my understanding you are questioning why some cultures put such a high value on a woman’s virginity, even if raped, as compared to how they value her faith.

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Dear Sister, this is, unfortunately, a cultural attitude that is based on misogynistic ideas against women. It is not an Islamic concept or a religious concept of any faith practice.

Please be aware I am not a jurist, I am a counselor. I will present the counseling perspective to you but I would be happy to provide you with some evidence that this is a false idea pushed by culture, NOT by Islam. 

Are Women Valued According to Faith or Virginity? - About Islam

In an authentic hadith, we are shown a beautiful example of a woman who was once a prostitute being granted Jannah based upon her character, her heart.

Obviously, a prostitute is not a virgin and has had an extensive number of sexual partners.

Please note in this hadith she doesn’t do some grand act, it is something many may see as small yet our creator knows our hearts and how even the smallest of deeds can come from the greatest and most pure of intentions. 

Narrated Abu Huraira:Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “A prostitute was forgiven by Allah, because, passing by a panting dog near a well and seeing that the dog was about to die of thirst, she took off her shoe, and tying it with her head-cover she drew out some water for it. So, Allah forgave her because of that.” [Bukhari]

We know that the Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) married 13 times in total (11 wives and 2 Jariyahs: Raihana bint Zaid and Mariah Al-Qibtiyah). Surely if virginity is the most valuable aspect of a woman then all or most of his wives must have been virgins?

Out of those 13, only one was a virgin! How could virginity possibly be the most valuable aspect of a spouse under Islam if only 1 out of 13 were a virgin. 

In the Quran we know it tells us a chaste person is for another chaste person, this is commonly misconstrued in the cultural context to mean a virgin for a virgin but in truth, a non-virgin can be chaste.

Being chaste simply means that man or woman is protecting their sexuality. This could be an average person who once engaged in premarital sex but decided to stop doing this.

Of course, a woman or man who is raped is still chaste! Rape should never be held against someone and no one should be ashamed of that. The man who raped her is the one accountable and who should be ashamed.

Any man that judges a woman for being raped or no longer being a virgin is obeying his culture and putting that over faith while going directly against the example of the Prophet Mohamed (saws). 


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How to Respond to This Attitude

If you are around people who commonly make these type of statements or shame women from it, I encourage you to speak with them in a kind and merciful way.

They might be misinformed and believe a woman’s virginity determines her worth more than her character and faith. I suggest mentioning the above hadith and factual information about the 13 wives as evidence that shows this is a false idea.

You can also speak with them about the mercy of Ar-Rahman (The Most Lovingly Beneficent,  The Most Kind and Giving,  The Most Gracious, The Infinitely Good and Merciful). 

If the people you are speaking with are continuing to press the issue and shame women, I don’t suggest further interactions with them and I would not consider them for marriage.

This demonstrates they elevate cultural oppressive ideas above Islamic and merciful ideas. This type of attitude is dangerous and will present further conflicts that may harm and oppress the women around them. 

Victim Recovery

For women who have been raped; she has the choice to embrace what happened to her and rise above it.

She can heal and work towards being a stronger woman who says yes I was raped and I will not apologize for what someone else did.

She can stand up strong and say if you judge me for what happened then you are not worthy of me. 

Let me be open and personal with you my dear Sister to drive this point home. I was raped in the past, I have zero shame about this and refuse to bow my head. Do you know why?

I was the one raped, not the rapist, I did nothing wrong. If you know someone who has been raped, please share this with them so they can read about rising above it. 

Those who were raped should consider personal counseling. This is a traumatic moment where their attacker essentially takes away their power.

To overcome rape a woman must take that power back and recognize what happened to her was a horrible act committed by someone else, not by her.

To continue in hiding it or feeling shame is to keep giving away her power to the attacker. She is allowing the rapist to keep hurting her long after he forgot about her.

It takes time to find this mindset and can be painful, which is why I strongly advocate for personal counseling.

If she is not ready to speak face to face with a counselor and wants to conceal the fact she is seeking out therapy, trauma-focused counseling can be done online or in-person. She can do it from the comfort and safety of her bedroom

Final Thoughts

To review the main concepts presented here. We see from Islamic history and the example of the Prophet Mohamed (saws) that this is a false ideal perpetuated by culture.

Religion does not advocate for this type of judgment. Evidence can be used to show others that this ideology is false and harmful.

I don’t suggest arguing with people, but present proper information which is a good reminder then let them make their own choices.

If you know someone who has experienced rape, please let them know they did nothing wrong and they can rise above this to be stronger. I strongly suggest personal counseling for any woman who has been sexually abused. 

May Allah (swt) protect you and those around you from such harmful ideas, ameen. 

salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-about-islam/are-raped-women-punished-in-islam/

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-scholar/family/can-a-raped-woman-be-married/

https://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/how-strong-is-your-iman-take-the-test/

About Monique Hassan
Monique Hassan graduated with honors in 2012 with her BSc in Psychology and a minor in Biology and is certified in Crisis Prevention and Intervention. She has years of professional as well as personal experience with trauma, relationship struggles, substance abuse, identifying coping skills, conflict resolution, community outreach, and overall mental health concerns. She is a professional writer specialized in Islamic Psychology and Behavioral Health. She is also a revert who took her shahada in 2015, Alhamdulillah. You can contact Sister Monique Hassan via her website "MoniqueHassan.com"