Various references and facts having been compiled below showing the true capabilities and position of women as taught by Islam.
WOMEN CITED AS EXAMPLES FOR BELIEVERS.
The Quran says:
“And Allah sets forth an example for those who believe — the wife of Pharaoh, when she said: My Lord, build for me a house with Thee in the Garden and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from the unjust people,
“And Mary, the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into him [i.e. the believer for whom Mary is an example] of Our inspiration …” (66:11-12)
Here two women are presented as examples for all Muslim believers (men and women). Pharaoh’s wife typifies the believer who is not yet free from the bondage of sin (just as Pharaoh’s wife was subject to the evil Pharaoh), but prays to be delivered from it. Mary typifies the highest grade of believer, who guards himself or herself against all low desires, and therefore receives inspiration from Allah.
So the Quran has cited two women as the highest examples for Muslim men and women to follow.
WOMEN RECEIVING REVELATION.
Examples of righteous women receiving revelation from Allah are given in the Quran:
“And We revealed to the mother of Moses, saying: give him [the baby Moses] suck, then when you fear for him, cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve …” (28:7)
Similarly, Allah’s revelation to Mary is mentioned in 19:24-26 and 3:42-43.
Note that the kind of revelation mentioned in these passages comes only to those who reach the highest rank of closeness to Allah.
A WOMAN MENTIONED LIKE PROPHETS.
In ch. 19, just as we have the words “and mention Abraham in the Book” (v. 41), “and mention Moses in the Book” (v. 51) etc. to introduce the accounts of various prophets, we also have: “And mention Mary in the Book” in exactly the same words. Similarly, ch. 21 gives examples of various prophets (verses 51 to 90), and then refers to Mary in the same way in verse 91, and then says in the next verse referring to the whole group:
“Surely this your community is one community, and I am your Lord, so serve Me”.
A WOMAN’S COMPLAINT HEARD BY ALLAH.
Chapter 58 begins as follows:
“Allah indeed has heard the plea of her who pleads with you (Prophet Muhammad) about her husband and complains to Allah”. 58:1
So Allah heard a woman’s complaint against her husband and sent revelation to the Holy Prophet to redress her grievance.
A WOMAN RULER IN QURAN.
The Quran gives the story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Solomon had a well-developed intelligence service. His intelligence officer brought him information about a neighbouring country as follows. (Note: This was not a bird, as commonly believed, but a man whose name was Hudhud.)
“I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given of everything and she has a mighty throne. I found her and her people adoring the sun instead of Allah … and they go not aright” (27:23-24)
What the Quran objects to here is not that a woman is ruling the country, but that she and her subjects worship the sun and do not follow the right path. The Quran then tells us how she rules the country:
“She said: O chiefs, advise me respecting my affair, I never decide an affair until you are in my presence. They said: We [i.e. the nation] are possessors of strength and mighty prowess. And the command is thine, so consider what you will do.” (27:32-33)
So she rules with the counsel of her advisors, but “the command is thine”. The power of the ultimate decision lies with her. The Quran, while relating this, raises no objection to this.
In the subsequent account, Solomon’s efforts are directed at rescuing her from idolatrous beliefs, and when she becomes convinced by his arguments, she says:
“My Lord, surely I have wronged myself, and I submit with Solomon to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.” (27:44)
She does not submit to Solomon as her lord and master, rather she submits to Allah along with Solomon, as an equal.
PROPHET’S WIVES AS GOOD EXAMPLE.
A verse of the Quran which is often discussed is the following:
“O wives of the Prophet, you are not like any other women. If you would keep your duty, then be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease yearn; and speak a word of goodness. And stay in your houses and display not your beauty like the displaying of the ignorance of yore” (33:32-33).