Woman and Society 1

Woman and Society 1

Human society is always in need of woman. For she constitutes half or more of its existence. Whoever considers carefully human history will conclude that woman played an important role even during the most backward historical periods, though this role was hidden in the shade or disappeared from sight. Modern civilizations have formally underlined the role of the woman and her rights. However, since its coming, Islam has summoned woman to practice her role in life and to shoulder her responsibility in building human civilization. Allah, the Exalted, said: "So their Lord did respond to them (saying) `I will not suffer the work of any of you that works to be lost, be he male or female, the one of you being from the other,...'"(1)

Indeed woman was neglected in pre-Islamic era of ignorance `Jahiliyah', and yielded to the manners of dishonor and lowliness. However, in Islam, she has gained her personality and become an example for all believers. Islamic history witnessed eminent women, who played important roles. Among them were Khadijah, the mother of believers, and Fatima, the chief of women of the world (PBUTH). Ignorance happened in some Islamic countries in the last centuries as it happened in other countries in the world. Hence, woman in such countries fell short of practicing her leading role in life. Thus, it is important for woman to understand the Islamic concepts concerning her. Accordingly, she will be able to play her role in developing society.

Without doubt, this role is different from that in material societies. For such societies have deprived woman of her dignity and her character. They have used her for a trade and information commodity. Moreover, capitalists and the ambitious ones have used her as a toy to play with. This method removes woman from her womanhood, her motherhood, her high position, and her gentle sentiments. So, she will gain nothing except crime, isolation, despair, violence, and the tragedies of the disorderly family. Our dear readers, the study before you, acquaints you the role of woman in an Islamic society. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

The Definition of Society

Society is a human organization which is composed of individuals, and joined with each other through ideological links and limited vital interest. This is the general definition of society. As for the links and relationships in Islamic society, they are grounded in Islam. Thus, we can define Islamic society as follows: "It is a political group of people residing in a certain area of the earth. It believes in Islam. Its relations and its life regime are based on Islam." Therefore Islamic society is ideological. It has its own qualities that distinguish it from other societies. It is distinguished by its beliefs, its values, its ethics, its laws, its life regulations, its behavior, and its customs. The Holy Qur'an has summarized these qualities as follows: "(This is) Allah's coloring and who is better than Allah in coloring; while Him (alone) do we worship."(2)

Why does Social Life Grow?

The growth of society and social life is among the basic matters which must be scientifically studied. For such a study will help us understand the reason why society and social life grew. To understand the Islamic theory concerning the growth of society and social life, we must consider carefully the Quranic verses that talk about these matters. Meanwhile these Quranic verses urge man to build human society based on firm foundations and principles. Among them are: Allah, the Exalted, said: "O people! Verily We have created you of a male and a female, and made you in nations and tribes, that you may recognize each other; Verily the most honored of you with Allah is the one of you who guards (himself) the most (against evil), ..."(3)

He said: "And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves, mates that you may dwell (inclined) unto them, and caused between you love and compassion: Verily in this are signs for a people who reflect."(4) 

He, the Glorified, said: "What! do they distribute the mercy of your Lord? (It is) We Who did distribute among them (even) their livelihood in the life of this world, and We did raise some of them above the others in rank, so that some of them may take the others in subjection; and the  mercy of your Lord is better that whatever they hoard."(5) Studying and analyzing these verses show us the reasons why society grew. Among them are: The basic factor for the growth of society is the general natural law of marriage. The instinctive structure of man and woman represents this law. Both, man and woman are the main factors for the growth of social life. This instinctive relationship between man and woman is based on love and mercy. So, it leads to tranquility.  For this reason, the Holy Qur'an regards woman as the base of tranquility. That happens through the psychological and social tranquility of man and of social life in general. That is because the psychological and the physical relationship between man and woman terminates psychological tension. It also ends the instinctive and psychological energy and leads to the principle of balance between man and woman. For this principle depends on perfection through the general natural marriage law.

Consequently, man and woman must shoulder their responsibility to build a sound righteous society. For they are the source of tranquility, love, affection, and mercy in social life. Acquaintance: The second reason which caused man to build a social life is acquaintance among human beings based on the instinct of social life. Regarding this view, the philosophers said: "Man is social by nature."

Social and psychological experiments have shown that man feels tranquility and rest through his social life with others. For this reason Allah, the Most High, said: "So that you may know one another." This phrase shows that there is a human motive behind forming society or social life. Exchanging interests: The third reason for building society is the exchange of various material interests. Indeed Allah wanted individuals to be perfect through their psychological, bodily, and intellectual abilities. He also wanted this perfection to be achieved through exchanging interests among individuals. The individual has diverse needs and demands. He cannot secure them all by himself. So, he needs others, and others need him. These differing abilities lead to differing productions and services which the individual offers to others. Concerning the exchange of these productions, interests, and services, which are offered to satisfy needs, the Qur'an says: "...and We did raise some of them above the others in rank, so that some of them may take the others in subjection;"(6)

Thus, the Qur'an explains the material and human reasons for the growth of society. The role of woman becomes prominent clearly and basically through these elements. In other words, woman plays a functional, psychological, and material role in social life. For woman constitutes the greater part in society. The census has shown that the number of females is more than the number of males.

Continue in the next article: ( Woman and Society 2 )



1. Holy Qur'an (Aal-Imran, 3:195)

2. Holy Qur'an (Baqara 2:138)

3. Holy Qur'an (Hujurat, 49: 113)

4. Holy Qur'an (Rum, 30:21)

5. Holy Qur'an (Zukhruf, 43: 32)

6. In Majjma` Bayyan, Tubrisi explained this verse, saying: "They exploit each other. So, they make use of the work of each other. With that the straightness of the world is organized."