As we plan space travel and build artificial intelligence to serve humans, the twenty-first century brings forth unique debates that were never in history considered as issues. The perceived spiritual, intellectual, and emotional make-up of men and women has altered drastically. We witness power struggle and dark oppression, which result in chaos. Human-offered solutions, such as freedom of choice, feminism, gender equality, and others, have miserably failed to heal the gender issues.
Interestingly, the original creation plan had men and women play roles of cooperation, collaboration, and communication. Allah (swt) granted both genders very specific roles that were not meant to conflict. They were to grow out of care, compassion, and companionship. It was meant to be an adventure to discover each other and co-exist with these distinctions, willingly and comfortably.
How does Allah (swt) describe their roles, responsibilities, and fulfilling rewards?
Both Genders Are Spiritually Equal
“The believing men and believing women are allies of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and establish prayer and give zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. Those – Allah will have mercy upon them. Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise. Allah has promised the believing men and believing women gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they abide eternally, and pleasant dwellings in gardens of perpetual residence; but approval from Allah is greater. It is that which is the great attainment.” (At-Taubah, 9:71-72)
This Ayah reminds both men and women of the purpose of their creation, which is to worship and please the Creator. Travelling the galaxies or diving into the depths of the ocean should not ever cause us to forget that.
Considering human nature, Allah (swt) also promises material gain and happiness, appealing to the human heart in response to their humble submission and obedience to their Rabb. For this very reason, Jannah has been created and described in heart-warming words as a place of eternal and ultimate delight – an abode where slaves will meet their Master Creator.
Islam offers these glad tidings to both men and women without discrimination.
Both Genders Are Created Are from a Single Soul
“O humankind, fear your Lord, Who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed, Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” (An-Nisa, 4:1)
Allah (swt) addresses the psyche of entitlement, where both genders usually play win-lose. They are most interested in highlighting their specific needs but fail to recognize the demands of others. Here the guiding principle is Taqwa (fear and consciousness of Allah (swt)), which ensures that both men and women stay within their boundaries and not usurp the rights of the other.
Allah (swt) is Ever-Watchful. His watch is not like ours. He can see what we conceal, what intentions we hide, and what feelings we harbour; hence, there is no denying Him. He is Al-Baseer.
Both Genders Are Granted Special Qualities by Allah (swt)
“And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of his bounty. Indeed, Allah is ever, of all things, Knowing.” (An-Nisa, 4:32)
Social media has encouraged a culture of display and ostentation. That has led to eyeing and envying other’s blessings. That has further led to negative competition, unending desires, and self-love to extremes.
Allah (swt) guides us not to compare ourselves to others in terms of what has been granted to whom. Allah (swt) gives and withholds according to His knowledge and wisdom.
If one is to ask for more, he should do so without jealousy. He must ask for Allah’s (swt) Fazal (bounty) that He grants from His limitless treasures.
Both Genders Must Preserve Haya (Modesty)
“Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof…” (An-Nur 24: 30-31)
Many women complain that the Islamic laws relating to Haya are strict for women and relaxed for men. This blame is based on ignorance or prejudice. The Quran commands men first to control their gaze and protect their modesty. It addresses women later.
Immodesty kills faith. And once faith flees, only disbelief is left behind. Shariah laws are very sensitive to the establishment of a society that practices Haya and preserves the honour of all. For this very reason, capital punishment has been legislated to ensure a pure society.
The world today witnesses sickness of sex crimes, pornography, pedophilia, and prostitution because the laws of modesty have not been upheld. Allah (swt) orders both men and women to uphold these laws equally.
Both Genders Are Offered Allah’s (swt) Protection
“Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. And those who harm believing men and believing women for [something] other than what they have earned have certainly born upon themselves a slander and manifest sin.” (Al-Ahzab, 33:57-58)
When the justice system of the world fails, Allah (swt) promises to avenge the innocent. Whether these are war crimes, injustices in organizations, mercilessness in families, victimization of an individual, or marginalization of a group, every oppressor will be held accountable. Some will be brought to justice in this world, while others will be punished on the Day of Judgement. Again, both oppressed genders have Allah (swt) as their Wali (protective friend).
Both Genders Will Receive Due Punishment
“[It was] so that Allah may punish the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the men and women who associate others with Him and that Allah may accept repentance from the believing men and believing women. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.” (Al-Ahzab, 33:73)
Allah (swt) does not play favourites. In some religions and cultures, men are the preferred gender, when it comes to prestige and privileges, and are often exempted from accountability. Allah (swt) clearly states in the Quran that whether there are crimes of faith (Iman) or action (Amal), both men and women will be responsible. Similarly, the doors of Allah’s (swt) mercy are also open to all believers, male or female.
Both Genders Must Follow Guidance
“It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error.” (Al-Ahzab, 33:36)
It is not a believer’s position to decide his destiny living in Allah’s (swt) world and being at His mercy even for the breath of air that he or she inhales. The believers must trust Allah (swt) and follow the Quran and the Sunnah for eternal salvation.
They can pose questions in order to understand their Deen better and follow it effectively for the pleasure of Allah (swt). But by no means can men and women object to the divine laws or worse reject them, thinking that they need to be changed to suit another lifestyle.
Harri Holkeri said it wisely: “Men and women – their roles are different, but their rights are equal.” We do not need to change our roles to compete for our rights. We should only grow in our prescribed roles and become our best version, respecting the other gender. But that requires the heart and soul of a Momin (believer), who trusts Allah (swt) and believes in himself or herself living between Sabr and Shukr.