Islam and Women
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Islamic scriptures generally employ the masculine pronoun in Arabic, which is used to refer to both men and women. On occasion, the scriptures diverge from this standard, inclusive usage, and comment specifically on men or women. The perspective taken by Islamic scriptures on women is of special interest in recent times due to frequent collision with modern values.
Women are legally disadvantaged by Islamic law in several domains of life. Particularly, women are disadvantaged in matters of sexual, domestic, legal, financial, sartorial, and physical autonomy. According to Islamic legal theory, while not all of Islamic law necessarily has a perceptibly rational basis, legal restrictions on women may be due to their supposed intellectual deficiency, which was pronounced by Muhammad according to a hadith collected in Sahih Bukhari.
It should also be noted that whereas the patriarchal arrangements of early Islamic society hardly deserve indictment, given their historical situation and the fact that they were in a limited sense an improvement upon pre-Islamic gender norms, the same can, perhaps, not be said about the perpetual enshrinement of those patriarchal norms - however much an improvement in 7th century Arabia - as took place in the ideas of Islamic law that finally emerged.
The writings of Professor Kecia Ali are renowned regarding the historical and modern Islamic approaches to women. Before her, Women and Gender in Islam by Leila Ahmed was also regarded as a seminal book on the subject. Ali's book Sexual Ethics and Islam is particularly wide-ranging. She argues that the Quran is androcentric in terms of almost always addressing men and privileging male sexual agency. Ali also notes in her book the "very real dissonance between the cultural assumptions undergirding the classical edifices of jurisprudence and exegesis and the modern notions influencing Muslim intellectuals and ordinary people everwhere". Throughout the book she critiques feminist and modernist interpretations while noting where they may have merit, as well as apologetics that misquote, mistranslate, or side step difficult issues. She also criticises some aggressively patriarchal and indeed misogynist interpretations. While warning against blind optimism on the prospects for transformation, she suggests the importance of rejecting medieval interpretations and not taking the Quran and hadiths as a repository of regulations to be applied at all times and places.
Verses addressed to women
Hadiths record a tradition that Umm Salamah prompted a couple of Quran verses directly addressing or about women.
There are a couple of similar verses:
Kindness and tranquility between Husbands and Wives
Being good to your Mother
The Value of Daughters
The Quran famously condemns the mushrikeen for feeling shame or even burying their female newborn children.
Statements about women
Women as a fitnah to men
Women as intellectually deficient
Muhammad's declared that the majority of the inhabitants of Hell are women. When asked why, he said it was because they are deficient in intelligence and religion and because they are ungrateful to their husbands. He also advanced in the same narration that their deficiency in intelligence was responsible for some of their legal disabilities.
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:Once Allah's Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o 'Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said, "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah's Apostle ?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn't it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
Muhammad also disapproved of female heads of state in severe terms.
Narrated Abu Bakra:During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler."
Most of Hell's inhabitants are women
Quran 37:22-23, in speaking of Hell-bound wrongdoers, states that the inhabitants of Hell will have their wives enter alongside them, apparently irrespective of their guilt. While the Arabic text of the Quran uses the word zawj, which can also mean 'spouses', it is clear in context that the term is referring to wives. The early pseudo-Ibn Abbas tafsir from the 8th or 9th century, along with many other classical authorities, specifically points out that this verse uses the word zawj to mean "wives".
Narrations in Sahih Bukhari state the majority of Hell's inhabitants will be women. The reasons given for this outcome is that women are ungrateful to their husbands.
Women compared to prisoners
One of the earliest and most important biographies of Muhammad, that of Ibn Ishaq, reports Muhammad to have described women as 'prisoners' during his Farewell Sermon in the valley of Arafat.
This statement is found in the most widely transmitted version of the farewell sermon, as recorded also by al-Tabari, and the hadith collectors Ibn Majah and al-Tirmidhi (see Farewell Sermon for details). According to traditional exegesis of the sermon, ʿawān means prisoners, though the English translator of the sermon in al-Tabari renders it as "domestic animals" in line with classical Arabic dictionaries.
In a hadith in Sahih Bukhari, Sad bin Ar-Rabi hands over his wives in a purely transactional manner, the spirit of which was reinforced by the institution of mahr.
Women compared to dogs and donkeys
Most orthodox Islamic scholars considers dogs to be haram - forbidden and najis - unclean. Thus the comparison of women to dogs in these Sahih (authentic) ahadith are noteworthy:
Women compared to devils
Women compared to a tilth
Menstruation as an illness
The guile of women is great
Quran 12:23-12:34 relates a story following prophet Yusuf, where the wife of al-'Aziz tries to seduce him. Her husband catches her and she accuses Yusuf of being the one to try and to seduce her. However, the husband does not believe his wife due to Yusuf's shirt being ripped on the back (and not the front). When referring to the adulterous woman's behaviour, her husband states that the guile (kayd) of women is great using the female plural.
Yusuf himself uses the female plural a few verses later about the guile of the specific women who try to tempt him (Quran 12:33-34). The point of the story seems to be the victory of the prophet over temptation.
While some modern commentators emphasise this and other aspects of the story, the vast majority of classical commentators took the second part of verse 28 spoken by al-'Aziz to indicate a defining feature of women in general. Some, such as al-Zamakhshari, even contrast it with another verse about the weakness of Satan's guile. Al-Qurtubi presents this idea in the form of a hadith (with a weak chain):
Virgins in Paradise
The Qur'anic Paradise is sensual in nature, promising Muslim men voluptuous, gigantic, and transparent-skinned virgins, but does not specify their exact number. The hadith literature compliment the Qur'anic text by specifying the exact number of virgins as 72 and providing detailed descriptions of their characteristics. These narrations vary in strength from good (hasan) to authentic (sahih) and have been accepted by the Islamic tradition. There are also given details on the physical attributes given to men to sustain 72 virgins, namely, ever-erect penises that never soften and the sexual strength to satisfy 100 women. Although it is said they will receive a "great reward" and there are also hadith which refer to 72 virgins as one of the "seven blessings from Allah" to the martyr, the Qur'an does not specify these virgins are a reward exclusively for jihadists/martyrs, but rather for any Muslim male who gains admittance to Paradise.
In Islamic law
Women are legally disadvantaged by Islamic law in several in several domains of life. Particularly, women are disadvantaged in matters of sexual, domestic, legal, financial, sartorial, and physical autonomy. According to Islamic legal theory, while not all of Islamic law necessarily has a perceptibly rational basis, legal restrictions on women may be due to their supposed intellectual deficiency, which was pronounced by Muhammad according to Sahih Bukhari.
Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is obligatory in the Shafi'i madhab and encouraged by the remaining three madhabs, namely the Hanafi, Hanbali, and Maliki. Salafi scholars also encourage the practice. In universally conceiving of FGM as being either an obligatory or favorable practice, the schools of Islamic law agree that prohibiting FGM altogether would not be acceptable, as this would be tantamount to contravening God's laws and preferences. Views on the specific type of FGM required or permitted vary within and between the madhhabs. Some prominent modern Islamic scholars have dissented from the favorable consensus of the Islamic tradition and ruled it to be unlawful.
The Islamic legal tradition, while differing on its implementation, embraced FGM wholeheartedly, and, In the hadith literature, Muhammad is recorded as tacitly approving of the practice (Sahih Muslim 3:684) , prescribing circumcision in general without specifying the requirements thereof per gender (Sahih Bukhari 7:72:777), and commenting generically on its implementation (Sunan Abu Dawud 41:5251). No where is Muhammad recorded prohibiting the practice.
In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood worked to decriminalize FGM. According to Mariz Tadros (a reporter),"the Muslim Brotherhood have offered to circumcise women for a nominal fee as part of their community services, a move that threatens to reverse decades of local struggle against the harmful practice [...] Many of the Brothers (and Salafis) argue that while it is not mandatory, it is nevertheless mukarama (preferable, pleasing in the eyes of God)."
Islamic law prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men based on Quran 2:221 and Quran 60:10 (while Muslim men may marry Christian and Jewish women according to Quran 5:5). Islamic law permits men to marry up to four wives (alongside an unlimited number of concubines), while women are restricted to a single husband and are prohibited from any other form of sexual activity. Modern Islamic scholars differ on whether or not a bride may stipulate as a condition of her marriage that her husband remain monogamous.
Islamic scriptures describe the mahr, or primarily financial gift made by a groom to his bride upon the marital nikah (sexual intercourse) contract, as 'the recompense for your having had the right to intercourse with her'. The Arabic word for "marriage" is "zawaj". In Islamic law, marriage is considered under the concept of nikah, a legal and financial contract between a male and a female Muslim. Nikah literally means "sexual intercourse".
For some time as a prophet, Muhammad permitted temporary mut'ah marriages whereby men would be permitted to engage in sexual activity with a woman for a predetermined period of time in exchange for compensation. While prohibited by Sunni scholars today, the practice is still considered legitimate by many Shi'ite scholars.
Control over movement and taking additional wives
Under Islam, a husband has a right to take up to four wives and has significant control over his wives. Under the Hanbali (but not Hanafi) school, women may stipulate conditions in the marriage contract to grant greater freedom of movement or to object to her husband taking additional wives, with a right to divorce if these are broken. In many cases such stipulations will not have been agreed ahead of the marriage, though some modern reforms of family law have sought to improve the situation. Otherwise the husband's rights are automatic.
The major schools of Islamic jurisprudence were in agreement that a pre-pubescent child could be contracted in marriage by his or her father and without consent. They based this view variously on Muhammad's marriage to Aisha, the example of his companions, and the Quran (particularly Quran 65:4). The Maliki and Shafi'i schools even allowed a father to forcibly contract his daughter in marriage who had already reached puberty if she was still a virgin, despite hadith evidence indicating otherwise. The family were to hand over the betrothed wife for consummation of the marriage when they determined that the girl was now able to endure intercourse without physical harm rather than this being tied to any particular age (though Ibn Hanbal specified the age of nine due to the example of Aisha's marital consummation with Muhammad). Some Quranic commentators interpreted the Quran such that only females who had reached puberty can be contracted in marriage, though most thought that marriage of minors was permitted. The Byzantines around this time allowed girls to be married from the age of thirteen and the Persian Sassinids allowed marital consummation from the age of twelve.
Today, many modern Muslim countries have legislated to raise the minimum age of marriage, in many cases to the age of 16 or 18 for girls (though often with loopholes or with ineffective enforcement) and to prevent forced marriage, often in the face of opposition from Islamic scholars. Many Muslim campaign groups and charities have been involved in this process and continue to offer help to those at risk (see the article Forced Marriage which includes sources of help). In collaboration with activists, in 2019 the deputy Grand Imam of al-Azhar University in Cairo issued a fatwa calling for marriage based on mutual consent with a minimum age set as 18. Unicef say that the prevalence of child marriages are decreasing globally but are nevetheless common (including among non-Muslim populations in some regions of the world).
Muhammad's encouragement to marry and fondle young virgins
Silence of a virgin implies her consent to marriage
Domestic rights and beating wives
Under Islamic law, women are obligated to obey their husbands in their domestic, social, professional, sexual and, to a limited extent, religious lives. Marital rape is not considered a crime. Quran 4:34 instructs Muslims men to, among other things, beat their wives if they fear nushuz (a word of unclear meaning but to be compared with similar usage in Quran 4:128). Muslim scholars agree on the permissibility of the practice but disagree on the conditions for and nature of the beating permitted. Women are also accorded a number of rights under the nikah contract. Men are obligated to provide for their wives financially and not to be too harsh to them, although the meaning of this latter requirement is set by the marital and gender norms of 7th century Arabia, where wife-beating was commonplace and acceptable. Women whose husbands fail to fulfill these rights are eligible for requesting divorce.
A wife can ask her husband to divorce her, and if he releases her from the marriage, she makes a payment to him of the mahr (item or sum of financial worth) she had received or some other agreed payment. This is known as khula'. If he refuses, she can try to get a divorce by judicial decree when there are grounds for which his consent is not required (such as inability or failure to fulfil his marital obligations, desertion, insanity, or cruelty).
There is a consensus among classical Islamic scholars that if a woman converts to Islam and her husband fails to, their marriage is nullified. This ruling is derived, in part, from Quran 60:10. The classical scholars also ruled that if on the other hand a husband converts to Islam, the marriage remains intact so long as his wife is a Christian or Jew. If a Muslim husband or wife leaves Islam, the marriage to his or her Muslim spouse is immediately annulled, though some held that the marriage is unaffected if only the wife leaves the religion, while others said that she becomes the husband's slave.
One verse grants similar rights to men and women during the divorce period, in some sense granting the husband a degree above his wife.
In nearly every instance where the Quran commands (men) to be chaste, it repeats that they need not be chaste with their wives and 'those whom their right hand possesses', which is universally acknowledged by historians and Islamic scholars as an Arabic euphemism which refers to one's slaves. An entire chapter in Sahih Muslim (chapter 29) is dedicated to the topic and is entitled: 'It is permissible to have sexual intercourse with a captive [i.e. slave] woman after she is purified (of menses or delivery). In case she has a husband, her marriage is abrogated after she becomes captive.'
Iddah (Female Menstrual Waiting Period)
The 'iddah is the period of time a woman must observe after the death of her husband or after a divorce, during which she has to face numerous restrictions. These restrictions include being largely confined at home and the clothes she is allowed to wear. For a widowed woman the waiting period is 4 months and 10 days; for a pregnant woman the waiting period is up to 9 months (till the birth of the baby); and for a divorced woman the waiting period is 3 menstrual cycles.
Generally, Islam grants women half the share of inheritance available to men if they inherit from the same father. This forms part of a wider Quranic and cultural context in which men are expected to provide for women and to pay a dower for marriage. However, it is easy to imagine scenarios even in the 7th century where the beneficiaries are at different stages of their lives or marital circumstances such that no rationale would justify the allocation fixed in the Quran.
Islamic scholars differ in their interpretation of the verses prescribing female attire. All four madhabs agree by consensus that women must cover their entire body, excluding their hands and face, except for Hanafis, who also permit women to reveal their feet. These clothing requirements only apply in the presence of unrelated men (in addition to some male relations) and during prayers. Hanafis and some other scholars also require women to observe these requirements in the presence non-Muslim women, fearing that these non-Muslim women may describe a Muslim woman's physical features to other men. Some modern interpretations disagree with the traditional views (see main article).
Islamic scriptures dictate that, in a court setting, a woman's testimony is worth half a man's. The reasoning given in Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301 is the deficiency of the female intellect. Islamic jurists have variously endorsed some exceptions to this rule-of-thumb, however. In legal cases relating to matters of female anatomy or specialty, a woman's testimony may be equal to a man's. On the other hand, Islamic jurists have also dictated that there are certain domains of law where a woman's testimony cannot be counted for anything at all.
The Quran itself mentions the principle in the context of loan contracts.
Punishment for lewdness
The Qur'an states that women found guilty of lewdness (l-fāḥishata) should be confined to house arrest until death or mysteriously 'God ordains another way'. The next verse (Quran 4:16) on the other hand ordains (unspecified) punishment if two men are found guilty of lewdness, but who are to be left alone if they repent and amend their ways:
Most scholars believe the above verse (Quran 4:15) was abrogated by the punishment of 100 lashes for both men and women who commit fornication (zina) in Quran 24:2, or stoning if either is married to someone else as set out in the hadith (such as Sahih Bukhari 9:92:432and Sahih Muslim 17:4194):
In Islamic law, unrelated women and men are not allowed to be alone together, have any sort of physical contact, engage in frivolous conversation, look at one another for any reason other than momentarily for the purpose of identification, or pray such that a woman is located in front of or adjacent to any man (women must stand behind men in prayer). Muhammad's wives are instructed in the Quran to remain at home as much as possible and according to hadiths Muhammad did not permit women to travel on significant journeys except under the supervision of a male guardian or relative. Some medieval scholars forbade women to leave their homes at all without permission. Modernist scholars generally contest these interpretations using other hadiths and arguments.
Muhammad and Women
Wives and Concubines of Muhammad
- Main Articles: List of Muhammad's Wives and Concubines and Qur'an, Hadith and Scholars:Muhammad's Wives and Concubines and Ages of Muhammad's Wives at Marriage
According to multiple sources, Muhammad had many wives and concubines, and was known to others as a "womanizer". Muhammad consummated his marriages with thirteen women, divorced another six, and had concubines. It is reported that he used to visit eleven wives in one night:
Aisha, sometimes spelt as 'Ayesha' or 'Aysha', was the nine year old child-bride of Muhammad. She was engaged to him at the age of six, when he was in his fifties. She was also the daughter of Abu Bakr, a close friend of Muhammad. Historically, she is known as Muhammad's "favorite wife." It has also been recorded in authentic Islamic sources that Muhammad struck Aisha and also allowed Abu Bakr to do the same. Aisha was not 'offered' to Muhammad by her father (as would have normally been the case for the marriage of so young a girl), rather it was Muhammad who approached Abu Bakr, and Abu Bakr originally protested. However, Muhammad justified his desire for Aisha with a divine vision from Allah.
The age of Muhammad's child-bride Aisha has in recent times become an actively contested issue, with a few modern Islamic scholars arguing that she was in fact older than nine when married or when the marriage was consummated. The overwhelming majority of modern Islamic scholars have, however, rejected this view as contravening authentic scripture.
Khadijah bint Khuwailid/Khuwaylid (555 – 619 AD) was the first wife of Muhammad and also a distant cousin. Belonging to the Bani Asad tribe, Khadijah was the daughter of Khuwaylid bin Asad bin. ‘Abd al-‘Uzza bin Qusayy, the Grand son Qusayy. She was a wealthy woman aged forty who ran her own business, and her marriage with Muhammad was a controversial one which almost sparked in bloodshed. Khadija's high social standing is often cited as evidence by some modern Islamic scholars that women were empowered by Islam. It is important to note, however, that she was a "great independent businesswoman" before Islam, during the so-called "Period of Ignorance" (Jahiliyah). Indeed, after Islam, Muhammad prohibited women from taking leadership positions, along with dictating other legal disabilities for women.
Safiyah bint Huyayy (610 - 670 AD) was the bride of Kinana and the chief mistress of the Jewish tribes of Quraiza and An-Nadir. When the Muhammad's followers invaded and conquered Khaibar, the opposition's fighting men were killed and Safiya was taken captive (along with the rest of the women and children) and allotted as booty to Dihya Al-Kalbi, a Muslim. Kinana, Safiyah's suitor or husband, was tortured and executed by Muhammad's followers in order to discover the hiding places of treasure, and one source relates that he and Safiya had been married only one day. She was so beautiful that the Muslims began praising her in the presence of Muhammad, and so the prophet commanded that Dihya be brought before him along with Safiya. Upon seeing her, Muhammad said, "Take any slave girl other than her from the captives" and he selected her to be his slave rather than the slave of any of his companions.
She was held captive until their marriage, and when Muhammad decided that she would be his wife rather than his concubine, he made known to her that her manumission was her mahr.
Mariyah the Copt was one of the prophet’s wives’ maids and bore him a son who later died, called Ibrahim. Muhammad slept with her without any ceremony, which caused uproar among his wives. It is said that the controversy was finally settled by verses Quran 66:1-6, allowing Muhammad to continue sleeping with her after he had placated his wives by recinding this right.
Muhammad's exemptions from sexual laws
Muhammad often received revelations from God which would absolve him from or resolve for him various personal restrictions and controversies. These revelations would form part of the Quran and hadith. Critics have suggested that such verses would scarcely merit inclusion in a eternal document of divine importance that conceives of itself as "guidance for all of mankind". According o Sahih Bukhari, Aisha, Muhammad's wife, once said to him after one such revelation, "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires."
Women and the Farewell Sermon
The Farewell Sermon (خطبة الوداع, Khuṭbatu l-Wadā') is Muhammad's last sermon before his death in 632 CE. One widely distributed modern redacted and edited version of the sermon differs significantly from the original versions found in Sunan Abu Dawud 1900 (Ahmad Hasan Ref), Sahih Muslim 7:2803, al-Tabari's History, and ibn Ishaq's Sirat. Muhammad's order in the sermon to men to control their women by beating them confirms and slightly moderates the Qur'anic order of wife-beating in Quran 4:34. In al-Tabari's version, Muhammad also compares women to domestic animals (ʿawān). In ibn Ishaq's version, quoted below, the translator renders the same Arabic word as prisoners, in line with traditional exegesis of the sermon.
Women in the modern Muslim world
Honor Violence and Islam
Honor killing has occured in many cultures, and is the murder by family members, usually of females, who are perceived to have brought shame on the family. The attitude is that the honor of the family in the community can be protected or restored in this way. Common triggers for honour killing occur when young couples have unmarried relations with each other, or when a woman marries someone against the wishes of her parents.
In Islamic law, there is no punishment merely for the shame caused upon a family by their female relations, nor to restore family honor by killing them. There are, however, punishments for various types of Zina (unlawful sexual relations) in Islam. Zina includes both fornication (when an unmarried person has intercourse), for which the punishment is flogging, and adultery (when a married person has intercourse with someone other than their spouse), for which the punishment is death by stoning. These punishments are only to be applied by the authorities. A punishment in a private setting is mandated in Quran 4:34 which tells men to beat their wives as a last resort in certain circumstances Quran 4:34.
Honour killing has been condemned in a recent fatwa, which says that the punishment for fornication by the unmarried is flogging, and must be carried out by the proper authorities.
However, some statements about women and the rules to control them as outlined above in this article may contribute to the perceived social consequences of failing to exert such control and the underlying attitudes towards women and girls held by those who commit honor killing and honor violence. This includes such rules as those concerning gender segregation and zina (especially the prohibition of sexual intercourse between an unmarried couple, even the suspicion of which is a common trigger for honor violence against girls), and a woman marrying without the approval of her wali. Underlining the seriousness in which some of these are regarded, certain punishments such as stoning, flogging, and even death by being thrown off a tall building are prescribed for sexual crimes in Islamic law, though these are to be carried out by the authorities. In the modern age, there have been many reported incidents of honor violence when young women are perceived to have violated Islamic requirements about dress and adornmonts when using photo and video based social media. A connection between Islam and honor violence is disputed by some on the basis that honor killing in the Muslim world is largely associated with certain countries like Pakistan and in parts of the Middle East and North Africa rather than universal. The problem has also been documented in a Hindu religious context in countries such as India and Nepal, particularly involving couples of differing castes.
While Islamic law does not order honor violence, parents who murder their children are not punishable with the Qisas (retaliation) under the Sharia. The standard manual of law for the Shafi'i school sets out this exemption in plain terms.
Efforts in modern Muslim countries have been made to deter such killings by changing the law to enable prosecution of the perpetrators, for example Pakistan in 2016 (after a change that had left a large loophole in 2004), though as of 2022 the effect there has been limited.
The United Nations Population Fund estimated in September 2000 that as many as 5,000 women and girls fall victim to such killings each year. Cases of non-fatal honor violence would likely be far higher.
Strict enforcement of hijab
In a few countries today (notably Iran and Afghanistan), the wearing of hijab is legally enforced, though in most Muslim-majority countries this is not the case though there may be social pressure. In the holy city of Mecca in March 2002, fifteen teenage girls perished in a fire at their school when the Saudi religious police, the muttawa'in, refused to let them out of the building, because in the female-only school environment, they had shed the outer garments that women are required to wear in the presence of men. They had not put these garments back on before trying to flee from the fire. The muttawa'in, favoring the victims' death to the transgression of Islamic law, battled police and firemen who tried to open the school's doors to save the girls. In 2018 Saudi Arabia rescinded its laws relating to head coverings.
According to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, over 90% of married women report being kicked, slapped, beaten or sexually abused when husbands were dissatisfied by their cooking or cleaning, or when the women had 'failed' to bear a child or had given birth to a girl instead of a boy.
Prosecution of rape cases
Islamic law traditionally has required four reliable muslim male witnesses or a confession in order to convict a man for rape (as an extension of the legal treatment of zina), though some modern legal approaches have sought to reduce this evidentiary burden. In some modern juristictions there is even a risk that a woman alleging rape can herself by prosecuted for slander or fornication if she lacks sufficient evidence, though this is not the position of most schools of traditional jurisprudence (see main article).
In March 2007, a 19-year-old Saudi woman received a sentence of 90 lashes. A man had threatened to tell her father that they were having an affair unless she met him alone. When she did, she was kidnapped and repeatedly raped, after which her brother beat her because the rapes brought shame to the family. After this, a Saudi court sentenced her to be lashed ninety times because she had met a man alone who was not related to her. Fuziyah Al Ouni, a feminist activist, said she was outraged by the case. 'By sentencing her to 90 lashes they are sending a message that she is guilty.'
In 2004, a sixteen-year old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, was hanged in a public square in Iran. Rajabi was charged with adultery, although it had likely been a case of rape. Her rapist was not executed. Rajabi told the mullah-judge, Haji Rezaii, the he ought to punish men who rape, not their victims. The judge both sentenced and personally hanged Rajabi because, in addition to her crime, he said that she had 'a sharp tongue.'
On November 1, 2008 a 13-year-old girl in Somalia was stoned to death after being raped by three men. She was unable to produce the required four witnesses to the rape and was therefore accused of adultery as required by Shari'a law. It was reported that the girl begged for mercy before being buried waist high in the ground and pummeled to death with stones by a crowd of some 1,000 Muslims.
Strict segregation of genders
In February 2008, an American businesswoman of Jordanian descent was arrested in Saudi Arabia after being found by the religious police sitting in the family area of a Starbucks with a male business associate. They had been working together at their nearby office when power was lost, and they decided to go to Starbucks to use the wireless internet. She was released from jail a day later, bruised and crying after being detained and beaten for being in the presence of another man who was not her relative.
- Women in Islam
- Women in Islam: An exegesis
- Sex and sexuality in Islam
- Arab Women Before and After Islam - by S. B. Zaki
- Kecia Ali,Sexual Ethics and Islam, England: Oneworld Publications, 2006
- Ibid. pp. 131-132
- Ibid. Introduction p. xxvii
- Ibid. pp. 153-157
- Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301
- "Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas 37:22", http://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=73&tSoraNo=37&tAyahNo=22&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2.
- ibn Ishaq, p. 651
- Taira Amin (2023), The Discursive Construction of Women’s Guile in the Muslim Exegetical Tradition in (Eds.) A. Aghdassi and A.W. Hughes, New Methodological Perspectives in Islamic Studies pp.46-72, Leiden:Brill DOI:10.1163/9789004536630_005.
- Section on FGM in the standard manual of Shafi'i law
- Lane's Lexicon بَظْرٌ
- Tadros, Mariz (24 May 2012). "Mutilating bodies: the Muslim Brotherhood's gift to Egyptian women". openDemocracy
- For example Muslim Women's Network UK and Tahirih Justice Center Forced Marriage Initiative
- Senior Islamic cleric issues fatwa against child marriage - Guardian.com
- Stories of Women who Became Muslim and Left their Non-Muslim Husbands - IslamQA.info
- Leeman, Alex B. (2009) "Interfaith Marriage in Islam: An Examination of the Legal Theory Behind the Traditional and Reformist Positions," Indiana Law Journal: Vol. 84 : Iss. 2 , Article 9. pp.754-759 Available at: http://ilj.law.indiana.edu/articles/84/84_2_Leeman.pdf and https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ilj/vol84/iss2/9
- Leeman, Alex B. (2009) "Interfaith Marriage in Islam: An Examination of the Legal Theory Behind the Traditional and Reformist Positions," Indiana Law Journal: Vol. 84 : Iss. 2 , Article 9. pp.754-759 Available at: http://ilj.law.indiana.edu/articles/84/84_2_Leeman.pdf and https://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/ilj/vol84/iss2/9
- "....Layla’s people said, "’What a bad thing you have done! You are a self-respecting woman, but the Prophet is a womanizer. Seek an annulment from him.’ She went back to the Prophet and asked him to revoke the marriage and he complied with [her request]...." - al Tabari vol.9 p.139
- "...He said: Was it the darkness (of your shadow) that I saw in front of me? I said: Yes. He struck me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?..." - Sahih Muslim 4:2127
- "....Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) then got up went to 'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) and slapped her on the neck, and 'Umar stood up before Hafsa and slapped her saying: You ask Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) which he does not possess...." - Sahih Bukhari 1:7:330
- "....The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for 'Aisha's hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said "But I am your brother."...." - Sahih Bukhari 7:62:18
- "....You were shown to me twice (in my dream) before I married you. I saw an angel carrying you in a silken piece of cloth, and I said to him, 'Uncover (her),' and behold, it was you. I said (to myself), 'If this is from Allah, then it must happen....." - Sahih Bukhari 9:87:140
- For example, take a look at this bit of vandalism.
- "Narrated Abu Bakra: During the battle of Al-Jamal, Allah benefited me with a Word (I heard from the Prophet). When the Prophet heard the news that the people of the Persia had made the daughter of Khosrau their Queen (ruler), he said, "Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler." - Sahih Bukhari 9:88:219
- Sahih Bukhari 2:14:68
- Ishaq. I (Author), Guillaume. A (Translator). (2002). The Life of Muhammad. (p. 515). Oxford University Press - Tabari vol. 8, p.123 - Muir, Sir William. (1878). The Life of Mahomet, New Edition. (pp. 390-391) London:Smith, Elder and Co.
- Muir, Sir William. (1878). The Life of Mahomet, New Edition. (pp. 392) London:Smith, Elder and Co.
- Sahih Muslim 8:3329
- Sahih Bukhari 1:8:367
- Tabaqat v. 8 p. 223 Publisher Entesharat-e Farhang va Andisheh Tehran 1382 solar h ( 2003) Translator Dr. Mohammad Mahdavi Damghani
- Sahih Bukhari 6:60:311
- Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 651
- Fatwa 101972 Ruling on honour killing
- ‘Honor Killings’ Continue Unabated in Pakistan - The Diplomat, 2022
- Christopher Dickey and Rod Nordland - The Fire That Won't Die Out - Islamawareness, 2002
- Pakistan: Violence against women: Media briefing - Amnesty International
- Saudi gang-rape victim faces 90 lashes - Khaleej Times Online, March 5, 2007
- Alasdair Palmer - Death and the maiden in Iran - The Telegraph, August 29, 2004
- Raped girl, 13, stoned to death news24.com,2008-11-01
- David Williams - Somali girl 'pleaded for mercy' before Islamists stoned her to death for being raped - Daily Mail, November 5, 2008
- Sonia Verma - American Woman Boasted of Saudi Freedoms To Bush Brother Before Arrest at Starbucks - Fox News, February 7, 2008