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 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.

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.

Souad Saleh, a female professor at Al-Ahzar University in Cairo and a vocal proponent of women's rights in Egypt, recently stated, "Islam is pure and simple, and it holds women in high esteem."[1] Saleh has also stated that Muslim men have the right to enjoy sex slaves and that "If we [Egyptians] fought Israel and won, we have the right to enslave and enjoy sexually the Israeli women that we would capture in the war."[2] The sharp contrast between the two statements made by Saleh reflect the dissonance of the Islamic tradition. While women are, in some metaphysical sense, men's equals, they are simultaneously deemed to be inferior in such things as intelligence and are subject to a wide array of unique legal disabilities.

In Islamic doctrine

Islamic scriptures

Narrated Usama bin Zaid: The Prophet said, "After me I have not left any affliction [fitnah] more harmful to men than women."

Women as intellectually deficient

Muhammad's declared that the majority of the inhabitants of Hell are women.[3] 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."
Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: On 'Id ul Fitr or 'Id ul Adha Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) went out to the Musalla. After finishing the prayer, he delivered the sermon and ordered the people to give alms. He said, "O people! Give alms." Then he went towards the women and said. "O women! Give alms, for I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-Fire were you (women)." The women asked, "O Allah's Apostle! What is the reason for it?" He replied, "O women! You curse frequently, and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. O women, some of you can lead a cautious wise man astray." Then he left.

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".[4]

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.

(And it is said unto the angels): Assemble those who did wrong, together with their wives and what they used to worship instead of Allah, and lead them to the path to hell;
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The Prophet said: "I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers were women who were ungrateful." It was asked, "Do they disbelieve in Allah?" (or are they ungrateful to Allah?) He replied, "They are ungrateful to their husbands and are ungrateful for the favors and the good (charitable deeds) done to them.
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Abbas: The people say, "O Allah's Apostle! We saw you taking something from your place and then we saw you retreating." The Prophet replied, "I saw Paradise and stretched my hands towards a bunch (of its fruits) and had I taken it, you would have eaten from it as long as the world remains. I also saw the Hell-fire and I had never seen such a horrible sight. I saw that most of the inhabitants were women." The people asked, "O Allah's Apostle! Why is it so?" The Prophet replied, "Because of their ungratefulness."

Women as like unto prisoners

One of the earliest and most important biographies of Muhammad, that of Ibn Ishaq, reports Muhammad to have described women as 'prisoners'.

"Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their persons. You have taken them only as a trust from God, and you have the enjoyment of their persons by the words of God, so understand (T. and listen to) my words, O men, for I have told you.[5]

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.

Narrated Ibrahim bin Sad from his father from his grand-father: Abdur Rahman bin Auf said, "When we came to Medina as emigrants, Allah's Apostle established a bond of brotherhood between me and Sad bin Ar-Rabi'. Sad bin Ar-Rabi' said (to me), 'I am the richest among the Ansar, so I will give you half of my wealth and you may look at my two wives and whichever of the two you may choose I will divorce her, and when she has completed the prescribed period (before marriage) you may marry her.'

Women are also mentioned in classical Islamic texts in contexts which suggest them to be possessions along with animals.

When one is given a woman, servant, or cattle, one should seize its forehead and pray to Allah.
Ibn-i-Majah vol.3 no.1918 p.157
Treat women well, for they are like domestic animals (awan) with you and do not possess anything for themselves.
al-Tabari vol.9 p.113

Women as like unto 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:

Narrated 'Aisha: The things which annul the prayers were mentioned before me. They said, "Prayer is annulled by a dog, a donkey and a woman (if they pass in front of the praying people)." I said, "You have made us (i.e. women) dogs."
Narrated 'Aisha: It is not good that you people have made us (women) equal to dogs and donkeys.

Women as like unto the devils

Jabir reported that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) saw a woman, and so he came to his wife, zainab, as she was tanning a leather and had sexual intercourse with her. He then went to his Companions and told them: The woman advances and retires in the shape of a devil, so when one of you sees a woman, he should come to his wife, for that will repel what he feels in his heart.

Women as like unto a tilth

Your women are a tilth for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilth as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (O Muhammad).

Menstruation as an illness

They question thee (O Muhammad) concerning menstruation. Say: It is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not in unto them till they are cleansed. And when they have purified themselves, then go in unto them as Allah hath enjoined upon you. Truly Allah loveth those who turn unto Him, and loveth those who have a care for cleanness.

72 Virgins in Paradise

Main Articles: 72 Virgins and Authenticity of 72 Virgins Hadith

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.

Narrated Abdullah bin Qais: Allah's Apostle said, "In Paradise there is a pavilion made of a single hollow pearl sixty miles wide, in each corner of which there are wives who will not see those in the other corners; and the believers will visit and enjoy them.

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[6] 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.

Obligatory (on every male and female) is circumcision. (And it is the cutting-off of the skin [qat' al-jaldah] on the glans of the male member and, as for the circumcision of the female, that is the cutting-off of the badhar [qat' al-badhar, badhar or بَظْرٌ either means the clitoris or the prepuce of the clitoris; Lane says that the precise usage was confused at some point in history[7]] (and this is called khufad))
Reliance of the Traveler [Umdat al-Salik], Section e4.3 on Circumcision

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)."[8]


Islamic law prohibits Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. 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.

Child marriage

Child marriage and sexual activity between adults and children are sanctioned by Islamic law and were practiced by Muhammad and his companions. As is the case within all contexts where sexual activity is permitted in Islam - namely, marriage and slavery - female consent is not required and the category of "rape" does not exist. The only restriction on sexual activity with children of any age within the contexts of marriage and slavery is that the child should not come to severe physical harm as a consequence of the encounter.

Encouragement to marry and fondle young virgins

Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: I was accompanying the Prophet on a journey and was riding a slow camel that was lagging behind the others. ... When we approached Medina, I started going (towards my house). The Prophet said, "Where are you going?" I said, "I have married a widow." He said, "Why have you not married a virgin to fondle with each other?"
Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet and I used to take a bath from a single pot while we were Junub. During the menses, he used to order me to put on an Izar (dress worn below the waist) and used to fondle me.

Domestic life

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 disobedience from them. 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.[9][10] 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.[11]


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.'

Those who humble themselves in their prayers; Who avoid vain talk; Who are active in deeds of charity; Who abstain from sex, Except with those joined to them in the marriage bond, or (the captives) whom their right hands possess,- for (in their case) they are free from blame.


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.


Islamic scriptures dictate that, in a court setting, a woman's testimony is worth half a man's. The reasoning given in Sahih Bukhari 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.


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). Women are also instructed in the Quran to remain at home as much as possible and are required to live and travel under the supervision of a male guardian or relative.

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".[12] 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:

Narrated Qatada: Anas bin Malik said, "The Prophet used to visit all his wives in a round, during the day and night and they were eleven in number." I asked Anas, "Had the Prophet the strength for it?" Anas replied, "We used to say that the Prophet was given the strength of thirty (men)." And Sa'id said on the authority of Qatada that Anas had told him about nine wives only (not eleven).


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[13] and also allowed Abu Bakr to do the same.[14] 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.[15] However, Muhammad justified his desire for Aisha with a divine vision from Allah.[16]

'A'isha (Allah be pleased with her) reported: Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) married me when I was six years old, and I was admitted to his house when I was nine years old.

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.[17] 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.[18]


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.[19] Kinana, Safiyah's suitor or husband, was tortured and executed by Muhammad's followers in order to discover the hiding places of treasure,[20] and one source relates that he and Safiya had been married only one day.[21] She was so beautiful that the Muslims began praising her in the presence of Muhammad[22], 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"[23] 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. Muhammad slept with her without any ceremony, which caused uproar among his wives. The controversy was finally was settled by divine intervention.

Waqidi has informed us that Abu Bakr has narrated that the messenger of Allah (PBUH) had sexual intercourse with Mariyyah in the house of Hafsah. When the messenger came out of the house, Hafsa was sitting at the gate (behind the locked door). She told the prophet, O Messenger of Allah, do you do this in my house and during my turn? The messenger said, control yourself and let me go because I make her haram to me. Hafsa said, I do not accept, unless you swear for me. That Hazrat (his holiness) said, by Allah I will not contact her again. Qasim ibn Muhammad has said that this promise of the Prophet that had forbidden Mariyyah to himself is invalid – it does not become a violation (hormat).[24]

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."[25]

Narrated Aisha: I used to look down upon those ladies who had given themselves to Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) and I used to say, "Can a lady give herself (to a man)?" But when Allah revealed: "You (O Muhammad) can postpone (the turn of) whom you will of them (your wives), and you may receive any of them whom you will; and there is no blame on you if you invite one whose turn you have set aside (temporarily).' (33.51) I said (to the Prophet), "I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires."

Women and the Farewell Sermon

Main Article: The Farewell Sermon See also: Analysis of Muhammad’s Farewell Sermon

The Farewell Sermon (خطبة الوداع‎, Khuṭbatu l-Wadā') is Muhammad's last sermon before his death in 632 CE. The modern redacted and edited version of the sermon differs significantly from the original versions found in Sunan Abu Dawud 1900 (Ahmad Hasan Ref), al-Tabari's History, and ibn Ishaq's Sirat, Muhammad's order in the sermon to beat one's confirms the Qur'anic order of wife-beating in Quran 4:34. In al-Tabari's version, Muhammad also compares women to domestic animals, and in ibn Ishaq's version, quoted below, women are compared to prisoners.

"You have rights over your wives and they have rights over you. You have the right that they should not defile your bed and that they should not behave with open unseemliness. If they do, God allows you to put them in separate rooms and beat them but not with severity. If they refrain from these things they have the right to their food and clothing with kindness. Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their persons. You have taken them as a trust from God, and you have the enjoyment of their persons by the words of God, so understand…"[26]

Women in the modern Muslim world

Honor Violence and Islam

Honor Related Violence is physical violence that is inflicted on an individual by perpetrators who believe the victim has brought dishonor upon the family, clan, or community by engaging in any conduct that is perceived as immoral or unacceptable by religious or social/cultural standards. This violence almost always happens in Muslim families.

While not prescribed in Islam, Muslim women are killed by family members for many "honor" related reasons, including being raped, associating with non-related males, getting pregnant outside of marriage, refusing a forced marriage, and for the belief they might have done something else immoral. In the eyes of their family, death serves restore the family's honor. The entire family may all collaborate on this, and in some cases the whole community may participate and even celebrate the occasion. The generally controlling nature of Islam towards women, and the death penalty in Islam for some types of zina (unlawful sexual intercourse) are plausible indirect reasons for such extremely negative attitudes towards women.

While honor violence is not explicitly endorsed in Islamic law, it often appears where Islamic law is implemented. Certain Islamic punishments such as stoning, flogging, and even death by being thrown off a tall building are prescribed for sexual crimes. While these punishment are not justified as 'recovering honor' as such, it is not difficult to see how a culture can make that connection and then implement the violence prescribed through other, extralegal means.

While Islamic law does not order honor violence, it does exempt it from prosecution in large part, as 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. Enactors of honor violence and killing can seek protection under this exemption, even if they are not encouraged by the Sharia to enact violence in the first place.

Retaliation is obligatory [...] against anyone who kills a human being purely intentionally and without right [...] The following are not subject to retaliation [...] (4) a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring.
'Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller), section o1.1-2

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.

Strict enforcement of hijab

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.[27]

Domestic abuse

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.[28]

Insufficient value of testimony in cases of rape

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.'[29]

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.'[30]

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.[31][32]

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.[33]

See Also

External Links


  1. Gamal Nkrumah - "Soaud Saleh: Time to tear down the divides" interview in Al-Ahram Weekly, online publication
  2. "The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar". Retrieved 2019-02-28.
  3. Sahih Bukhari 1:6:301
  4. "Tanwir al-Miqbas min Tafsir Ibn Abbas 37:22", 
  5. ibn Ishaq, p. 651
  6. Section on FGM in the standard manual of Shafi'i law
  7. Lane's Lexicon بَظْرٌ
  8. Tadros, Mariz (24 May 2012). "Mutilating bodies: the Muslim Brotherhood's gift to Egyptian women". openDemocracy
  9. Stories of Women who Became Muslim and Left their Non-Muslim Husbands -
  10. 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: and
  11. 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: and
  12. "....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
  13. "...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
  14. "....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
  15. "....The Prophet asked Abu Bakr for 'Aisha's hand in marriage. Abu Bakr said "But I am your brother."...." - Sahih Bukhari 7:62:18
  16. "....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
  17. For example, take a look at this bit of vandalism.
  18. "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
  19. Sahih Bukhari 2:14:68
  20. 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.
  21. Muir, Sir William. (1878). The Life of Mahomet, New Edition. (pp. 392) London:Smith, Elder and Co.
  22. Sahih Muslim 8:3329
  23. Sahih Bukhari 1:8:367
  24. Tabaqat v. 8 p. 223 Publisher Entesharat-e Farhang va Andisheh Tehran 1382 solar h ( 2003) Translator Dr. Mohammad Mahdavi Damghani
  25. Sahih Bukhari 6:60:311
  26. Ibn Ishaq, Sirat Rasul Allah, p. 651
  27. Christopher Dickey and Rod Nordland - The Fire That Won't Die Out - Islamawareness, 2002
  28. Pakistan: Violence against women: Media briefing - Amnesty International
  29. Saudi gang-rape victim faces 90 lashes - Khaleej Times Online, March 5, 2007
  30. Alasdair Palmer - Death and the maiden in Iran - The Telegraph, August 29, 2004
  31. Raped girl, 13, stoned to death,2008-11-01
  32. David Williams - Somali girl 'pleaded for mercy' before Islamists stoned her to death for being raped - Daily Mail, November 5, 2008
  33. Sonia Verma - American Woman Boasted of Saudi Freedoms To Bush Brother Before Arrest at Starbucks - Fox News, February 7, 2008