Sacred texts - in Muslim communities

"The Islamic concepts of dignity, justice, rights and responsibilities all reinforce the importance of equality between women and men, as they clearly imply that all humans, women and men alike, should be free to develop their personal abilities and make choices based on partnership, without the limitations set by stereotypes, social roles and prejudices. This underlines the need for gender equity, which calls for women and men both to be treated fairly, according to their respective needs."

“Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.” [Qur’an 16:97]

 




“Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.” [Qur’an 16:90]

The ultimate aim of life for both female and male, according to the Qur’an, is to serve the Creator. Using this as a basis, then the cultivation of positive relationships between males and females can be a form of worship. Justice is a balanced fulfilment of rights and responsibilities. There can be no justice where God given human rights are violated or where duty bearers fail to discharge their responsibilities. Biological differences should not become an excuse for valuing men and women differently from each other. Their equal recognition is important for communities to thrive. The Qur’an and the Sunnah remind us how oppression is unlawful and that we need to respect the rights of others in this worldly life, as the balance of justice will be established by God in the hereafter.

In accordance with our faith values, Islamic Relief commits itself to supporting advocacy initiatives designed to address the prevalence of gender inequities, via promotion of knowledge building at the individual, family, community, and societal levels.
Rights and responsibilities in Islam are properly framed as reciprocal within the family and wider community units and are aligned to various objectives of Islamic ethics (Maqasid al-Shari’ah). The rights of women and men in relation to one other and their responsibilities mean that, for most cases, one’s rights cannot be separated from one’s responsibilities, within the confines of one’s capabilities.

“God does not burden any soul with more than it can bear.” [Qur’an 2:286]


In Islam, rights and responsibilities are set out within divine revelation at individual, family, community and societal levels with one’s circumstance and position dictating the nature of these obligations, within a socially just equilibrium. For example the poor have rights over the affluent, children over their parents, and older parents over their adult children. Rights and responsibilities in Islam are outlined in the Islamic Relief policy document Human Development in Islam (Aminu Kano, 2014). This guidance aims to protect equal rights for all females and males, this is covered by Maqasid al-Shari’ah (the objectives of Islamic law provided in the Qur’an).


In the case of competing women’s and men’s rights, God entrusted that through partnership and consultation (for example shura - consultation) spouses will reach agreements and maintain their affairs justly (Qur’an 16:90), aiming to support each other to do good deeds 24. Marital life in Islam is recognised as an expression of God’s mercy and as one of His signs. Hence, peaceful, harmonious and fulfilling spousal relationships are encouraged:

“Another of His signs is that He created spouses from among yourselves for you to live within tranquillity: He ordained love and kindness between you. There truly are signs in this for those who reflect.” [Qur’an 30:21]

Islamic Relief states: "Even though many Muslims around the world believe that justice and women’s rights are enshrined in the Qur’an, we often observe gross violations of faith teachings in practice.
Distortions of Islam, affected by misinterpretation, local culture, traditions and social norms, are a major factor in legitimising people’s misapplication of faith guidance in their daily lives

Religion has become intertwined with cultural norms, with a severely negative impact for women and girls. This is of particular concern because of the Islamic imperative – ‘to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil’.

As a faith-based development organisation, religious texts inform our approach to our work, including gender issues. The principles at the core of our work are based on the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The actual practices of the Prophet himself provide further guidance about how Muslims might translate the lessons of the Qur’an and Sunna (see Definitions) into practice. We can also draw upon rich traditions from Islamic history.

The Islamic concepts of dignity, justice, rights and responsibilities all reinforce the importance of equality between women and men, as they clearly imply that all humans, women and men alike, should be free to develop their personal abilities and make choices based on partnership, without the limitations set by stereotypes, social roles and prejudices. This underlines the need for gender equity, which calls for women and men both to be treated fairly, according to their respective needs.

see: The Gender Justice Policy of Islamic Relief


Action

Please pray for a good life of all Muslim believers: that they can live in peace and enjoy just relationships.

Pray for peace in regions and places of conflicts. May all people of different faith share life in just and sustainable communities.

Visit neighbours of another faith. Share with them a message of peace. Show them that you care for the future of their families and especially the protection of the most vulnerable against violence: the children and young girls among them. Listen and hear: What are their concerns? What do they fear? What do they hope for?