Some westerners think Muslim women do not receive equal treatment with men. In fact, the aim of Islam is quite the opposite.' Examine and comment on this claim in the context of a multicultural society.

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Some westerners think Muslim women do not receive equal treatment with men. In fact, the aim of Islam is quite the opposite.’ Examine and comment on this claim in the context of a multicultural society.

Why is it that western consciousness perceives Islam in such deeply flawed terms?
Why are negative images of Islam more prevalent than any others? Why is it still acceptable to say things about Muslims that would simply be deemed unacceptable of Jews, Christians, or Buddhists? That years of inter-faith dialogue have done little to advance a better understanding of the Islamic faith in the western world is an indication of how profoundly entrenched in the West misrepresentations and vulgar stereotypes of Islam are.

      The western society generally views itself as the source of women’s liberation, and feminists seem to have an obligation to broaden their rights to the eastern oppressed women. West sees the veil as a stumbling block and feels if they were to remove it would it would gain freedom for these women. These views have misunderstood the status of women in Islam and have been publicized in the media. Britain regards itself as giving equal rights to men and women Although in Britain latest studies have shown that men are paid more than women to carry out the same task. Surveys have shown that employers would rather employ men than women with the same qualifications. There are hardly any women politicians in comparison to men but Muslim women like Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh, have ruled over 300 hundred million Muslims in the 1990s and now is currently being ruled by another women. Benazir Bhutto had been the president of Pakistan. There has essentially never been a female president in the United States till this present time.

      The extent of a religion’s efficiency depends on what resolution to controversial issues like that of women is presented. Islam has provided the most practical outline of social organization, according to the natural and physical capabilities of both men and women. However other civilisations and faiths prior to Islam dealt with this matter as well, Aristotle and many other Greek philosophers argued that women were not fully human and this view was accepted in the catholic churches. St Thomas Aquinas another philosopher later put forward his view of the earlier Greek philosopher proposing that women were the traps of Satan. Every evil caused in humanity was likely from them. This idea was accepted throughout the middle ages. Men were the only ones who had rights before the law they could buy, sell and own a property.

Up to this present time male Jews still recite,” Blessed art thou our lord, our God king of the universe that I was not born a female”(Alan Unterman, Jews: their Religious beliefs and practices,1981, page 140). Also in Judaism, the Talmud states “Woe to the man whose children are female” (Ibid, Page 133)

        In pre Islamic Arabia women were treated like commodities, object desire that were bought and sold like cattle. Some of them were even made to dance naked in the vicinity of the Kaaba during annual festivals. In those times a man could have as many wives as he desired and women were inherited if widowed from father to son. Arabs used to bury their female children alive at birth, and treat women as mere chattels and objects of sexual pleasure possessing no rights or position whatsoever, these teachings of the Noble Qur'an were revolutionary. Unlike other religions, which regarded women as being possessed of inherent sin and wickedness and men as being possessed of inherent virtue and nobility, Islam regards men and women as being of the same essence created from a single soul. The Qur'an declares:

 O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will. Nor should you treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them - except when they have become guilty of open lewdness. On the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them, it may be that you dislike something and Allah will bring about through it a great deal of good. (4:19)

 O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, his mate, and from this pair scattered (like seeds) countless men and women. Reverence Allah, through whom you demand your mutual (rights), and reverence the wombs (that bore you); for Allah ever watches over you. (4:1)

Spiritually men and women are equal. They are created out of identical spiritual material. (According to some old Christian’s thinkers) so therefore if women are sinful so are the men because they are identical.

In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to Allah is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. The Qur'an says:  

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women. (2:226)

The Qur'an, in addressing the believers, often uses the expression,’ believing men and women' to emphasize the equality of men and women in regard to their respective duties, rights, virtues and merits. It says:  

For Muslim men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast, for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise, for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (33:35)

Enter into Paradise, you and your wives, with delight. (43:70)

Who so does that which is right, and believes, whether male or female, him or her will We quicken to happy life. (16:97)

The Qur'an admonishes those men who oppress or ill-treat women:   The Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him) said,

   "Women are the twin halves of men."

The Qur'an emphasizes the essential unity of men and women in a most beautiful simile:

  They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them. (2:187) the ideal relationship between husband and wife is graphically described in the above verse.

Just as a garment hides our nakedness, so do husband and wife, by entering into the relationship of marriage, secure each other's chastity. The garment gives comfort to the body; so does the husband find comfort in his wife's company and she in his. "The garment is the grace, the beauty, the embellishment of the body, so too are wives to their husbands as their husbands are to them." Islam does not consider woman "an instrument of the Devil", but rather the Qur'an calls her musanat - a fortress against Satan because a good woman, by marrying a man, helps him keep to the path of rectitude in his life. It is for this reason that marriage was considered by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as a most virtuous act. He said: "When a man marries, he has completed one half of his religion." He enjoined matrimony on Muslims by saying: "Marriage is part of my way and whoever keeps away from my way is not from me (i.e. is not my follower)." The Qur'an has given the raison d'être of marriage in the following words:  

And among His signs is this that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquility with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (30:21)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was full of praise for virtuous and chaste women. He said:

"The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman. He once told the future khalif, 'Umar: "Shall I not inform you about the best treasure a man can hoard? It is a virtuous wife who pleases him whenever he looks towards her, and who guards herself when he is absent from her."

   On other occasions the Prophet said:  

"The best property a man can have is a remembering tongue (about Allah), a grateful heart and a believing wife who helps him in his faith." And again: "The world, the whole of it, is a commodity and the best of the commodities of the world is a virtuous wife."

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was most emphatic in enjoining upon Muslims to be kind to their women when he delivered his famous khutba on the Mount of Mercy at Arafat in the presence of one hundred and twenty-four thousand of his Companions who had gathered there for the Hajj al-Wada (Farewell Pilgrimage). In it he ordered those present, and through them all those Muslims who were to come later, to be respectful and kind towards women. He said:  

"Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of Allah, and made their bodies lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means."

"One who makes efforts (to help) the widow or a poor person is like a mujahid (warrior) in the path of Allah, or like one who stands up for prayers in the night and fasts in the day."

These aspects were much emphasized by the Prophet (peace be upon him). He exhorted men to marry women of piety and women to be faithful to their husbands and kind to their children. He said:  

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"Among my followers the best of men are those who are best to their wives, and the best of women are those who are best to their husbands. To each of such women is set down a reward equivalent to the reward of a thousand martyrs. Among my followers, again, the best of women are those who assist their husbands in their work, and love them dearly for everything,

Islam, as a religion recognizes men’s and women’s role as different but, however it certainly does not regard them as superior or inferior than one or the other. Both roles ...

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