Some people say that women are lacking in reason and lesser in their faith, inheritance and testimony.
Others say that Allah rewards and punishes both men and women equally. What is your opinion in this regard? Are women in a lower status than men, according to the Shari`ah (Islamic law)?
Islamic Shari`ah honors women and raises them to a lofty status, with the aim of protecting them and preserving their dignity. Thus, a woman's guardian or husband is obligated to provide for her, support her, answer to her needs and live honorably with her. Allah states:
...and live with them honourably.
It has been also confirmed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) stated,
"The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best to my family."
Moreover, Islam grants a woman all the appropriate rights (Part No. 17; Page No. 7) and legal responsibilities. Allah states:
And they (women) have rights (over their husbands as regards living expenses) similar (to those of their husbands) over them (as regards obedience and respect) according to what is reasonable, but men have a degree (of responsibility) over them. And Allâh is All-Mighty, All-Wise.
This includes various types of transactions such as selling, buying, peacemaking, Wakalah (appointment of a legally accountable person to act on behalf of another for a specific permissible matter), `Ariyah (permission to benefit from a borrowed article whose use is permissible, which is eventually returned to its owner), depositing...Etc. In addition, a woman is obligated to carry out the same acts of `Ibadah (worship) and commands that men are, such as Taharah (ceremonial purification), Salah, Zakah (obligatory charity), Sawm (Fasting), Hajj and many other forms of worship. However, Shari`ah grants a woman half the share of man's inheritance since she is not obligated to provide for herself, her household or her children, contrary to the man. Add to this that a man's wealth is liable to reduction by means of entertaining guests, paying blood money, paying compensation and the like. In some cases, the testimonies of two women equal the testimony of one man, since women are more prone to forget than men due to their special nature. They have the menses, become pregnant, give birth and raise children. All of these things can affect a woman's ability to remember accurately. That is why, evidence from Shari`ah makes it necessary for two woman to bear witness together to be sure. On the other hand, there are some issues that are solely related to women when it is enough (Part No. 17; Page No. 8) for one woman to testify, such as cases of suckling, marital problems and the like. Furthermore, women and men are rewarded equally for their Iman (belief) and righteous deeds, in enjoying the life of this world, and in being recompensed greatly in the Hereafter. Allah states:
Whoever works righteousness - whether male or female - while he (or she) is a true believer (of Islâmic Monotheism) verily, to him We will give a good life (in this world with respect, contentment and lawful provision), and We shall pay them certainly a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do (i.e. Paradise in the Hereafter).
This proves that women have rights and duties just as men have rights and duties. Some matters suit men better and that is why Allah charges men with them, while other matters suit women better and that is why Allah charges women with them. May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.