What is the Islamic concept of equality between men and women?
The Holy Qur’an states that all believers, without distinction, are equal and that only righteous deeds elevate one person above another. Muslims therefore have an immense respect for righteous and pious men and women. Islamic history also tells us that men and women both served in many capacities from being teachers, doctors, leaders and even as soldiers in battle when Muslims were under attack.
Islam however also recognises that such equality does not mean that men and women are the same. It notes their different physical and emotional strengths and in view of this sets out their key roles in life. The roles are therefore not a question of superiority or inferiority, but a question of natural capacity and proper functioning.
For example men have been assigned the duty to work and provide for their family and women have been assigned the role of motherhood and of looking after the household.
Islam places equal importance on both and also stresses that the roles are not exclusive nor inflexible. This does not mean that women cannot work or serve society or that men have no duties or responsibilities for their children or for their household.
It is interesting to note that where women choose to work the money they earn is theirs and the husband has no right over it, whereas a husband must provide financially for the whole family.
All of this is in direct contrast to the status of women before the advent of Islam.