The Role of a Woman in Islam – The Orchards of Love – Part Seventeen

The Role of a Woman in Islam

Allah Ta‘ala, through His infinite grace and mercy, has created and designed the world in the most perfect form and caused it to continue functioning most precisely and accurately. The unique rotation of the sun and moon, the alternation of the day and night, the rainfall from the clouds and the four seasons – all are manifestations of the Qudrat (Power) of the Most-Perfect Creator, Allah Ta‘ala.

Each creation of Allah Ta‘ala has been created to fulfill a specific role and function in the world. Similarly, Allah Ta‘ala created man, who is the pinnacle of His creation, to fulfill the greatest objective – to worship Allah Ta‘ala and uphold His commands in the world. In order for man to be successful in fulfilling the purpose for which he has been created, Allah Ta‘ala has stipulated specific roles for men and women to adhere to when leading their lives in the world. These roles, which Allah Ta‘ala has designated to both men and women, are in total conformity and harmony to their nature and disposition.

In Islam, the role of a woman can be encapsulated in three aspects. The first aspect is her obedience to Allah Ta‘ala and leading a life of piety. The second aspect is her remaining within her home and observing strict purdah with all non-mahrams. The third aspect is her remaining obedient to her husband and fulfilling his rights. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “When a woman is punctual on her five daily salaah, fasts during the month of Ramadhaan, protects her chastity and is obedient to her husband, she may enter through whichever door of Jannah she wishes.” (Majma’uz Zawaa’id #7634)

Obedience to Allah Ta‘ala and leading a life of piety

A woman’s primary concern at all times should be to remain obedient to Allah Ta‘ala and lead a life of piety. She should understand that Allah Ta‘ala is the Creator and the Only Being who will bless her with success, happiness and contentment in her life. Hence, she should regard His command to be first and foremost in her life, and she should never compromise in fulfilling His commands for anything in the world. Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “There is no obedience to the creation in those things that lead to the disobedience of Allah Ta‘ala.” (Musannaf ibn Abi Shaybah #33717)

Remaining within the home and observing strict purdah with non-mahrams

In order for a woman to be successful and beloved in the sight of Allah Ta‘ala, she should remain within her home and not leave her home without need. Allah Ta‘ala addresses the blessed wives of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the women of the ummah saying, “Remain within your homes and do not come out of your homes making a display of your beauty like the women during the former days of ignorance.” (Surah Ahzaab v.33)

Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said that a woman should be concealed from the eyes of strange men. When she exits from her home, Shaitaan begins to stare at her. (In this way, Shaitaan causes men to cast lustful glances at her, inciting them towards her.) The time that she is closest to her Rabb is when she is concealed within her home.” (Musnadul Bazzaar #1820)

Imaam Shaafi’ee (rahimahullah) has stated that during the mubaarak era of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), none of the respected wives, daughters or women of the family of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) would be present for the congregational or Jumu‘ah Salaah in the musjid. This was on account of the fact that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) encouraged the women to perform their salaah within their homes. (Ikhtilaaful Hadith 8/624)

When the women of the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) left their homes for a valid need, they observed a very high level of purdah from strange men. Even at the time of performing tawaaf, the women would ensure that they do not mix with the men. Imaam Bukhaari (rahimahullah) has narrated a Hadith showing that in the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), when the women would perform tawaaf, then they would not walk among the men. Rather, they would perform tawaaf on the side, separated from the men. In this way, there would be segregation between the men and women. (Saheeh Bukhaari #1618)

Remaining Obedient to her husband and fulfilling his rights

It is reported that on one occasion, Hazrat Asmaa bint Yazeed (radhiyallahu ‘anha) came to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) while he was seated among the Sahaabah (radhiyallahu ‘anhum) and addressed him in the following words:

“O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam)! We women remain within the confines of our homes and protect ourselves from the gazes of strangers. We fulfill the needs of our husbands and bear their children. The men have been favoured by Allah Ta‘ala by being able to attend the Jumu‘ah Salaah and other salaahs in congregation whereas we women perform our salaah within our homes. The men visit the sick and attend funerals. They perform hajj after hajj, and even greater – they participate in jihaad in the path of Allah Ta‘ala. When the men leave their homes to perform hajj or umrah or to guard the borders of the Islamic territories, it is the womenfolk who protect their wealth for them. The women sew their clothes for them and raise and care for their children. After all, O Rasul of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), do the women not have any share in the reward of the men?”

Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) was greatly pleased with her question and said to her, “If a woman displays excellent conduct with her husband, endeavors to please him, and cooperates and assists him in the good works that he does, then she will be an equal partner with him in receiving the great rewards of the good deeds that her husband carries out.” (Shu‘abul Imaan #8369)

From the abovementioned incident, we understand that there are many great opportunities for the women of this ummah to progress in deen and acquire the tremendous rewards of the Hereafter. However, they will only acquire progress and acceptance if they fulfill their role which Allah Ta‘ala has chosen for them and they are pleased with the decree of Allah Ta‘ala.


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