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Why Are Women Treated as Inferior in Islam?

08 March, 2022
Q As-salamu `alakum. It has been shown that women are capable of performing many tasks to the ability of men, or even better. So in these types of situations, why must these women still be considered inferior to men?


Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

In this fatwa:

1- People are not classified according to their gender, wealth, race, or color.

2- The only criterion that distinguishes one person from another is his/her righteousness and dutifulness to Allah.

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In responding to your question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Former President of the Fiqh Council of North America, states:

According to Islam, women are not inferior to men. Allah creates both of them and both of them are equal in the Sight of Allah. If they are equal in the Sight of Allah, then how can they be inferior in the society or in the sight of men?

Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an: {O people, We have created you from a male and a female and made you into groups and tribes so that you may know each other. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah are the most righteous among you.} (Al-Hujuraat 49:13)

According to Islam, men and women complement each other. They are equal members of the society and they have their duties and responsibilities. There are some differences between the roles of men and women in the society, but these differences do not make one gender superior and the other inferior.

Un-Islamic Culture

The talk of superiority or inferiority is based on some of un-Islamic cultures, but it is certainly not part of Islam.

Some people misinterpret the verse 34 of surat An-Nisaa’, in which Allah Almighty says: {Men are the managers of the affairs of women because Allah has made some to excel the other.}

The aforementioned verse is not about the absolute excellence of all men over all women. It is talking only about the family organization where the husband has the responsibility to take care of his wife and children. It is not saying that every man is a caretaker of every woman.

Secondly, the verse is not about the spiritual, moral or intellectual excellence of husband over his wife. It is talking about his physical strength and capabilities, because of which he must protect his family and must be the provider for his wife and children.

Given the above, it is clear that being male or female has nothing to do with superiority or inferiority. Indeed, history is full of women who set great examples of nobility and righteousness. Some of these examples are appreciated and commemorated in the Quran itself.

We find a surah named after one of these great women, namely Mary the Virgin, and another surah called An-Nisaa’ (Women).

Allah Almighty knows best.

Editor’s note: This fatwa is from Ask the Scholar’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.