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Does Islam promote equality in marriage?


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Marriage in Islam

Equality’ is not the starting point in a Muslim marriage. Rather the starting point is Allah’s justice which creates balance in society. This does not mean Islam aims for inequality, rather it doesn’t take this into consideration.

Abdullah bin Umar reported “Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of the people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects: a man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for his subjects, a woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and of his children and is responsible for them…”Bukhari

“Wives have [rights] similar to their [obligations], according to what is recognised to be fair, and husbands have a degree [of right] over them: God is almighty and wise.” [2:228]

This ‘degree over them’ is that men are the amir of the house, provide the financial obligations and are responsible for the safety and security of their families. The primary role for women is to be homemakers, raising & nurturing the children. Women have the right to respect, affection and time physical protection from her husband.

The aim of marriage is to achieve tranquility “And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in peace and tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): Verily in that are signs for those who reflect” (Quran 30:21).

A man asked the Prophet (saw): What do you say (command) about our wives? He replied: “Give them food what you have for yourself, and clothe them by which you clothe yourself, and do not beat them, and do not insult them.” (Abu-Dawud)

Ibn Abbas (sahabah) identified a reciprocal aspect of the marital relationship: “I love to beautify myself for my wife just as I would love for her to beautify herself for me, because God says ‘Wives have [rights] similar to their [obligations], according to what is recognised to be fair.’”[19]

Islam deals with the miserly as a judicial matter – the Prophet (saw) regularly presided over cases where money was confiscated from the husband and given to the wife. This was also the clear practice of the khulafah rashideen and those after them. Islam also gave the right of custody (in the case of divorce) to the woman.

Hadith on Satan: Devil most pleased when families are broken

Jabir reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Satan places his throne over the water and he sends out his troops. The closest to him in rank are the greatest at causing tribulations. One of them says: I have done this and this. Satan says: You have done nothing. Another one says: I did not leave this man alone until I separated him from his wife. Satan embraces him and he says: You have done well.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 2813

Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to Muslim

عَنْ جَابِرٍ قَالَ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ إِنَّ إِبْلِيسَ يَضَعُ عَرْشَهُ عَلَى الْمَاءِ ثُمَّ يَبْعَثُ سَرَايَاهُ فَأَدْنَاهُمْ مِنْهُ مَنْزِلَةً أَعْظَمُهُمْ فِتْنَةً يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ فَعَلْتُ كَذَا وَكَذَا فَيَقُولُ مَا صَنَعْتَ شَيْئًا قَالَ ثُمَّ يَجِيءُ أَحَدُهُمْ فَيَقُولُ مَا تَرَكْتُهُ حَتَّى فَرَّقْتُ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ امْرَأَتِهِ قَالَ فَيُدْنِيهِ مِنْهُ وَيَقُولُ نِعْمَ أَنْتَ

2813 صحيح مسلم كتاب صفة القيامة والجنة والنار باب تحريش الشيطان وبعثه سراياه لفتنة الناس وأن مع كل إنسان قرينا

Negative consequences of equality in marriage

Feminism has achieved some benefits for some woman. However, as a liberal project it has contributed to the breakdown of the traditional family.  By calling for equality between men and women, the net result has been, instead of just the father going out to work, we now have both parents out at work, leaving the kids to be raised by daycare or devices.

“Feminist activists concentrated their attentions on improving mothers rights in the workplace…meanwhile the marketing industry concentrated its attention on gaining access to children’s minds.” Sue Palmer, 21st Century Girls

47% of UK parents and carers said work affected their ability to spend time together as a family,
39% saying it prevented them from being able to say goodnight to their children often or all the time.
42% said work commitments meant they could not help their children with their homework. (The Modern Families Index)
1 in 8 of the UK’s children experience mental health problems. (NHS Survey 2017)


Equality as a value does not create harmony in society

“We want our dignity back, our “feminine mystique” back, and, along with it, the notion of male honor. Our mothers tell us we shouldn’t want to give up all the hard-won “gains” they have bequeathed to us, and we think, what gains? Sexual harassment, date rape, stalking, eating disorders, all these dreary hook-ups? Or perhaps it’s the great gain of divorce you had in mind? We look to a different, more romantic, generation for our role models.”

“Formerly, a man who was impatient with women, with their hang-ups or their inexperience, and just wanted to get right down to business, would go to a prostitute. Or, to put it differently, when men behaved like jerks, at least they compensated the women for it. Today men expect to be able to treat all women like prostitutes, only without just compensation, and the virgins are the ones who are now stigmatized,” It is the single women who are treated like unpaid prostitutes.”

“The first thing sexual modesty seems to protect is a certain vulnerability. Today girls are generally brought up to assume that they have no special vulnerability, because that would be sexist. Our cultural coaches drill into our heads sayings like “Equality means equally bad as well as equally good.” Being as promiscuous as any man is taken to be a badge of one’s liberation. But why, then, do so many young women end up sounding like victims today? Though now it is considered “sexist” to admit that women are naturally more vulnerable in any way, it seems it is precisely denying a woman’s special vulnerability and stripping her of her natural way of compensating for it that is the height of true misogyny. The impression one gets from touring the sad pictures of my college’s Clothesline Project—where women hung up T-shirts that read, “I Hate You!” and “Don’t Touch Me Again”—is that these women, far from being equal, seem at men’s mercy. Women had a special vulnerability in the past, we are told, only because there was a risk of pregnancy. Now that we have the Pill, all vulnerability is abolished. But we seem to be[…]”

“In pursuit of a unisexual society in which we deny that men are physically stronger than women, drunks (and sober opportunists) with total disregard for women will simply have more chances to prey on them. All our unisexual society has achieved is precisely this greater opportunity for women to be taken advantage of. Equal-opportunity rape, stalking, beating and equal-opportunity death.”

Excerpts From: Shalit, Wendy. “A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue”.


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