The Equality of Education for men and women in Islam

About the Author: Qurrat-ul-Ain Shaukat is one of the talented students of Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan. She is studying in Pharm. D.

Education in IslamThe Quran tells us about the respect and equality of all mankind but it announces the superiority of class of educated people.

The Quran says;

“Are the educated and uneducated equal?”

In Sura Al-Baqara, the Quran declares the superiority of Adam in these words;

“And He taught Adam all the names, then showed them to the angels, saying: Inform Me of the names of these, if ye are truthful. They said: Be glorified! We have no knowledge saving that which Thou hast taught us. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Knower, the Wise.” (Sura Al-Baqara, Sura # 2, Aya # 31-32)

The angels and shaitan failed in the test of knowledge; hence the vicegerency was assigned to Adam. Knowledge made him superior to all creatures. The first word of the revelation deals with the importance of knowledge. In Sura Al-Alaq it is said, “Read: In the name of thy Lord Who createth,” (Sura Al-Alaq, Sura # 96, Aya # 1)

[hana-code-insert name=’StumbleUpon’ /][hana-code-insert name=’Reddit’ /]There is another verse of Quran Majeed asking the Prophet (P. B. U. H.) to pray;

“Lord! increase my knowledge.”

The importance of knowledge is described at different places in Quran. The Quran says we send the Prophets to teach people wisdom. It further says that the only people of knowledge fear God.

In Sura Al-Baqara, Quran says,

“But the best of provisions is right conduct. So fear Me, o ye that are wise.” (Sura Al-Baqara, Sura # 2, Aya # 197)

The Arabic word “Olil-albab” (the men of kind) has been used in the Quran mentioning that the verses of the Quran are for the men who cogitate.

The human are superior to the animals because of the mind. We find many sayings of the Holy Prophet (P. B. U. H.) on this subject;

 “Attain knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”

Knowledge is identified in Islam as worship. The acquiring of knowledge is worship, reading the Quran and pondering upon it is worship, traveling to gain knowledge is worship. The practice of knowledge is connected with ethics and morality with promoting virtue and combating problems, enjoying lights and forbidding wrong. The main purpose of acquiring knowledge is to bring us closer to ALLAH.

A Muslim is not a Muslim simply because he is born Muslim instead a Muslim is a Muslim because he is a follower of Islam and he follows the rules which are given by ALLAH and an educated person always done his work according to Quran and Hadith. Gaining knowledge is not simply for the gratification of the mind or senses. It is not knowledge for the sake of knowledge or science for the value of sake of knowledge accordingly must be linked with values and goals. It is important to note here that the concept of knowledge in Islam covers a broad spectrum of subjects. It is not only about the education of Islamic studies, it is about the every kind of study or knowledge.

One of the purposes of acquiring knowledge is to gain the good of this world, not to destroy it through wastage, arrogance and in the reckless pursuit of higher standards of material comfort.

Allah Almighty makes the path to paradise easier for him who walks on it for getting knowledge. (Sahih Muslim, 4:2074)

The purpose of the above discussion is just to tell you about the importance of knowledge according to Islam. Now I would like to tell you about the equality of education for men and women in Islam.

Equality of men and women in Islam and they are complementary in nature to one another.  In one sense equality between men and women is possible and reasonable because they are both human with similar souls, brains, hearts, lung, limbs etc but in another sense equality between men and women is impossible and an absurdity due to their natural differences in physical, mental, emotional and psychological qualities and abilities.

The Quran says,

O men! Fear your Lord Who created you from a single being and out of it created its mate; and out of the two spread many men and women. (Sura An-Nisa, Sura # 4, Aya # 1)

This verse clearly expounds that men or women created from a single entity and are basically equal genders. As a gender one is not superior to the other and according to usage, women too have rights over men similar to the rights of men over women. That rights enjoyed by men are the duties of the women and the duties of men are the rights of women. This implies a similitude between both the genders. There is no light conferred on man that women may be deprived of because she is a woman. Islam entitles women to the same rights and men in terms of education. The Prophet of ALLAH (P. B. U. H.) said as reported and authenticated by the scholars; seeking knowledge is compulsory for each and every Muslim (i.e. both male and female).

Muslim scholars are collectively agreed that the word Muslim when used in revealed scriptures include both male and female as we indicated in parenthesis. Thus, Islam entitles women to the same right of education in order to understand the religious and social obligations and obligated them both to raise their children with the right Islamic guidance. Off course women have certain obligations in bringing up their children that are commensurate to their abilities.

Quran Majeed tells us,

Their Lord answered the Prayer thus: “I will not suffer the work of any of you, whether male or female, to go to waste; each of you is from the other. Those who emigrated and were driven out from their homesteads and were persecuted in My cause, and who fought and were slain, indeed I shall wipe out their evil deeds from them and shall certainly admit them to the gardens beneath which rivers flow.” This is their reward with their Lord; and with Allah lies the best reward. (Sura Aal-i-Imran, Sura # 3, Aya # 195)

The religion of Islam gave women an honorable status and true dignity. Before the advent of Islam women had no right of any kind or an independent identity in any form. The great importance of the Muslim women’s role whether as wife, sister or daughter and the rights that are due to her and the rights that are from her have been explained in the glorious Quran,

The Prophet of ALLAH (P. B. U. H.) said,

“Acquiring of knowledge is obligatory to every Muslim male and female.”

Islam has made it a duty on every Muslim male and female to gain knowledge which is considered to be a superior act of worship in Islam. In Islam therefore both men and women are created with the capacity for learning, understanding and teaching.

Acquiring knowledge will enable Muslim men and women to get a better perception and understanding of the world around them and make them more conscious of Almighty ALLAH.

Islam regards women as spiritually and intellectually equal to men. Both have equal rights to receive an education and enter into gainful employment.

To prevent women from getting an education is contrary to the teaching of Islam. Equality can be attained by giving proper education and through awareness and by setting up rules and regulations to make sure that rights of the people are respected in Islam.

Sura Az-Zumar (39), Aya # 9 in Quran reveals,

““Are those who know equal to those who do not know?” Only those endowed with understanding take heed.”

Sura Al-Baqara (2), Aya # 269 in Quran reveals,

“He bestows wisdom upon anyone He wills, and he who is given wisdom is in fact given great wealth, but only those who have common sense learn lessons from these things.”

The study of the life of Holy Prophet (P. B. U. H.) also shows that he himself made special arrangements for the education and training of women.

Abu sa’id Al-Khudri reports that some women said to Holy Prophet (P. B. U. H.), men have gone ahead of us (in terms of acquiring of knowledge) therefore appoint a special day for our benefits as well. The Holy Prophet (P. B. U. H.) fixed one day for them. He (P. B. U. H.) would meet them on that day, advise them and educate them about commandments of Allah Almighty. (Sahih Bukhari, 1:50.)

None of these verses specify that only wise men receive admonition or that only male servants who have knowledge fear Him. ‘A’isha al-Siddiqa, mother of the faithful, was a hadith-narrator, scholar, intellectual and jurist of great standing. She is believed to have reported 2,210 traditions. She was also women and has too much knowledge so every woman should gain knowledge.

Another misnomer is the view that suggests women are only allowed to gain knowledge from female teachers and that instructions from men are prohibited due to the demands of pardah. Although an ideal environment would dictate women teaching women, we do not live in the world where this is always possible. Since Islam is a religion for all nation and all times, it is based on practical reality. There is no stipulation that only women can teach other women or a bar regarding male teachers for women if the rules of dress are properly observed then men can teach female students under shari’a. This is also apparent from the above mentioned Hadith, when the Holy Prophet (P. B. U. H.) himself made arrangements for the education and training of women where one day was specified for women in the Prophet’s mosque.

The conclusion is that women should be educated equally to men and it is already shown by Quran and Hadith. So women should gain knowledge for the betterment of their families and for their children. As the river has two banks, which are parallel to each other and always remain together and existence of both are very important and necessary. If any bank of river destroy than river cannot flow in proper way and spread. Like this men and women are both important and have collective importance to run their lives and also have importance to run a family in a better way. If one of them is not educated they could not understand the ups and downs of life and cannot run his/her family in better way. So there should be equality in men and women in terms of knowledge and education.

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