I know this is an obvious question, but I usually find some stories bias. Please include resources to back-up your opinion.

Ok taking a very basic example...women can't look at the moon. And we shouldn't go outside after its magjib time. And men can do both of those. Also, there is an American friend and she is really into women's right (usually catholic women's right)....and whenever I talk to her, she mentions that Muslim women in other countries don't have rights. For example, she says in Saudi women can't drive. And we have to wear hijab, niqab, and abaya. I am a hijabi, so I just tell her we choose to wear hijab, in my case i was not forced. Or in Saudi, women use the taxi/auto ricksha and those are the main source of transportation. But then there are news where women are mistreated with such violence and abuse...that's hard to explain. And the main reason between those mistreat is when a man thinks he is superior to a woman.

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    equal in what? in rights? in shape? in weight? Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 7:15
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    are you sure examples you said like "women can't look at the moon" and others exist in Islam? Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 6:56
  • yes, i am sure. My relatives are from india. Maybe its not in islam but the culture...I don't know. My grandfather says we can't go out during the night. But I suppose these sayings aren't really followed since i sometimes look at the moon (how can i not, its right above me!) and I have night classes. I assumed that everyone knew these simple stuff. But i suppose its different for each country...
    – Nightgem
    Commented Sep 19, 2012 at 5:17

4 Answers 4


The short answer is yes and no, but to be clear, in the sense that they are both human, potentially among the best creatures of Allah even of a higher position than the angels, yes they are equal:

For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward. (Al-Ahzab,35)

However, it is also from Quran that Allah created every species and gave each everything that was required for it to live and experience a journey toward Allah (for human specifically: "To Allah We belong, and to Him is our return", Al-Baghareh: 156; and for other alive species: "There is not any alive being on the earth, nor a being that flies on its wings, but forms part of communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they all shall be gathered to their Lord in the end", Al-Ana'am:38):

قَالَ رَبُّنَا الَّذِي أَعْطَىٰ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلْقَهُ ثُمَّ هَدَىٰ

He said: "Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its [particular] form and nature [through which it is distinguished from another thing], then gave (it) guidance." (Taahaa:50)


إِنَّا كُلَّ شَيْءٍ خَلَقْنَاهُ بِقَدَرٍ

Verily, all things have We created in proportion and measure. (Al-Ghamar:49)

So that everything that is helped and guided differently it's because it has been created differently, with different natures, although sometimes the differences is as much small as one can easily categorize them in groups, like: human, different plant groups, different animal groups like dogs and cats, viruses etc. They all have different shapes and behavior as God has created them differently so also guided them differently, each to the extent required for itself.

Now see that males and females have different bodies and even some genes and organs are different between them, then who on the earth can claim that God should have been guided them similarly as has guided males? Not even for human alone but also for plants and animals, there is always a different between males and females in the way to live, not that because males are better or females, they are just different, although in that they are all human being, or animal or plant, are similar and equal.

In humans specifically, women are created in a way and men are created in another way, their bodies which their soul should use here in this world in the journey toward Allah is just different, so should be their souls. To put is differently, if the souls of male and female were to be equal, their bodies required for their creation were also required to be equal (see again the Ayah's referred above), and if it is not so their souls are also different. You of course know by yourself that even psychologically men and women are different. Let me even say something more, even every male is different from another when their faces, the shape of their noses, the color of their hairs and eyes, their height, and etc. are all different, however, it is told to us by the creator that the difference between men and women is much greater than the differences between women themselves or men themselves, so the rules expressed by Allah for men is different from those for women. But each person who acts in the way he/she is guided by Allah (required by its nature) would reach a place for human being, be it man or woman, a fat one or a tall one.

The last point, if you are still in doubt, see every human is everyday subjected to different tests, if everyone was equal to the others then it was a must for their tests also to be equal, and then we had not have such a world with this much varieties.

The tests for the prophets have always been more difficult than the tests for us and other common people, as their souls was different and you can see there was always a sign of prophecy in their bodies as well, like in their face or the right shoulder or etc.

However, the most important thing about human being and Elves, among all the alive beings, is that they can choose to improve and that's the reason behind all the tests of Allah, going by the rules of Allah can improve one's soul and you can see this through his/her face and/or eyes (although most of the times it is hidden to our eyes as Allah is Al-Sattar, but it is stated that after death or in the judging day the hijab's would go away). The prophets all did obey Allah in every instant of their lives so should their tests be more difficult if you care.


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    "However, the most important thing about human being and Elves" - elves?
    – G. Bach
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 15:49

According to Shi'a Islam, men and women have the same kind of (genderless) soul but have differences in physical bodies and psychological aspects.

Men and women have totally equal rights but not necessarily the same rights, and this is due to differences in their bodies and psychologies that makes them being not suitable for some positions in society and makes different rights.

There are many rights that women have but men don't. For example women can ask wages for breastfeeding the baby, or ask wages for working at home. Men don't have any right to demand women to breastfeed babies or work at home. Also, women own all their property.


The book Woman And Her Rights by Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari

  • Is that really the view point of Shia Islam that two person's souls, be both male or female or of different genders are exactly equal? I do not think so. A wooden ball and a plastic ball are both equal but only in the sense that they are balls, that is, equal in some respects and different in others. Both men and women in general are the same to God in the sense of their humanity worth, but not in every respect as Allah himself has created them differently. Even human can reach the place of Angels and that doesn't mean the human soul is like that of the angels, two totally different creations.
    – owari
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 8:01
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    I am sunni, but thanks for your answer. And i didn't know we had the same genderless soul. And asking for wages makes women sound likes servants to me...
    – Nightgem
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 6:48
  • @Nightgem Islam does not recommend asking wage. but recommend love and mercy atmosphere in family. but anyway this is a right of woman. right and recommendation are different. Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 6:54
  • referring to 1st statement of your answer, can woman be supreme leader?
    – Umer Hayat
    Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 7:46
  • @UmerHayat in Shia Islam woman can not be ruler or Judge. but can be minister, manager, legal consultant, many other positions. this does not mean lower rights. because total rights of man and woman should be considered and compared. Commented Sep 17, 2012 at 8:19

Talking about equality in its broad sense, we can say that Women and men are equal but not identical since their physiological and psychological makeup is different. Hence, their roles are within society are different. Women and men are equal in spirituality. The spiritual equality is based essentially on the worship practices reward and punishments in the hereafter. They also share the same rights and duties within their society. Before Islam, women were not only deprived of inheritance but they were themselves considered property to be inherited by men. In Islam, they have their share of the deceased kin's property.

They are also entitled to study, work, own property, and enterprise. She has the right to accept or reject marriage proposals. As mothers, they get the privilege of being the most entitled to be treated with the best companionship. When a man came to the Prophet (p) and expressed the desire to join a military expedition, the Prophet (p) asked him if he had a mother. When he replied that he had, the Prophet (p) advised him, “Stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet. As a wife, she is exempt from all financial liabilities. She is not obligated to work or share with her husband's family expenses. All house expenses and its maintenace must be carried by the husband. She also has the right to a suitable dowry. As a daughter, She has the right to equitable treatment from their parents. Prophet gave glad tiding to those they cared for their daughters and treated them with courtesy.

As you notice, Islam elevates the position of women in society. However, Qiwamah - male authority - is hugely discussed and debated. It is derived from verse 4:34. Qiwamah means that men are responsible for women and they are their caretakers because men excel over women and are better than them in certain tasks. Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi explained the Qiwamah as following: Men are superior to women in the sense that they have been endowed with certain natural qualities and powers that have not been given to women or have been given in a less degree, and not in the sense that they are above them in honor and excellence. Man has been made qawam (governor) of the family because of his natural qualities and woman has been made his dependent for her safety and protection because of her natural drawbacks. Qiwamah does not mean that women are submissive to men because verse 9:71, stated that men and women are considered Awliya, Alliance, or mutual supporters. They are supporters of one another; they help and aid each other. Rachid Haroune.


Unfortunately many of the other answers here, including the accepted one are bordering on insecure apologetics, the fact is in Islam men are definitely "ranked" higher than women and this is clear to anyone who examines the Qur'an, the Sunnah and avoids drowning in the numerous pits of liberal reform that are so easy to fall into nowadays. Now I should be clear, Islam does grant women all the rights they need and deserve and women are never belittled, but the focus of this answer will be strictly to show that men "outrank" women, at least in this worldly life.

The Quranic verse 4/34

One of the clearest proofs of a Man's superiority over a woman is this verse of the Qur'an:

Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.(4/34).

There are three clear takeaways from this verse.

(1) Men are in charge of women. If men and women are equal, then why would Allah declare one in charge of the other?

(2) Allah encourages women to be obedient. How can you be equal with somebody you are subservient to?

(3) Further, Allah gives men the authority to discipline their disobedient wives through various methods. Again, where is the equality? there is none, there never was and I think any such notion is born external to Islam.

A quick survey of various classical commentaries on this verse by the tafsir specialists of the Madhahib shows the same conclusion:

The two Jalals, Imams Mahalli and Suyuti two famous scholars, especially Al Suyuti for his expertise in the Qur'an sciences wrote:

Men are in charge of, they have authority over, women, disciplining them and keeping them in check, because of that with which God has preferred the one over the other, that is, because God has given them the advantage over women, in knowledge, reason, authority and otherwise, and because of what they expend, on them [the women], of their property
[ Quranx Ref: Tafsir al Jalalyn 4.34 4/34 ]

From the same madhab, Ibn Kathir the famous mufassir whose tafsir is probably the most widely used today wrote:

الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَآءِ
meaning, the man is responsible for the woman, and he is her maintainer, caretaker and leader who disciplines her if she deviates. [ Quranx Ref: Tafsir Ibn Kathir 4.34 4/34) ]

The Reservation of Rulership for Men

Secondly, I highlight the Islamic reservation of leadership roles for men and strictly men as another evidence that the rank of a man is further up the figurative "totem pole" on the hierarchy (yes i said it and God forbid Jordan peterson reads this).

The Messenger of Allah said:

Never will succeed such a nation as makes a woman their ruler
[ Sunnah Ref: Sahih Bukhari 7099 ]

Every hadith in Sahih al Bukhari is accepted. I know there are some people who prefer Hadith books written closer to the time of the prophet, you lot should know that most of the earlier books generally contain weaker connections of the form


while Imam Bukhari preferred to find chains with a stronger link, and whenever he did use the weaker form, he ensured that the two narrators connected were stellar when it came to problems like tadlees. This quickly devolves into a debate of time vs connection strength.

As for the interpretation of this hadith, it is obvious that the Messenger of Allah PBUH does not consider it appropriate for women to rule a nation. There are some theories as to why the prophet said this. Some scholars explained that this is because of the verse 4/34 (mentioned earlier) as Allah put men in charge of women and if a woman were to manage a nation, then she would also be in charge of men and this would contradict that verse of the Qur'an. It was on the basis of this Hadith and reasoning that some of the madhabs even forbade women from becoming judges and any positions of leadership, nevermind rulers. Regardless of whether one disagrees with that extrapolation of this statement of the Prophet, this is clearly a few metric tonnes of bomb dropped on feminist ideas of gender equality.

The Speech on Female Deficiencies

Another famous Hadith regarding this issue of gender equality is the speech the Messenger of Allah gave regarding the various deficiencies women have, in the intellect and in the religion:

The Messenger of Allah said:

"O women folk! You should give charity and be diligent in seeking Allah's forgiveness because I have seen (i.e., on the Night of the Ascension to the highest heavens) that dwellers of the Hell are women." A woman amongst them said: "Why is it that the majority of the dwellers of Hell are women?" The Prophet (ﷺ) replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. In spite of your lacking in wisdom and failing in religion, you are depriving the wisest of men of their intelligence." Upon this the woman asked: "What is the deficiency in our wisdom and in our religion?" He (ﷺ) replied, "Your lack of wisdom can be well judged from the fact that the evidence of two women is equal to that one man. You do not offer Salat (prayer) for some days and you do not fast (the whole of) Ramadan sometimes, it is a deficiency in religion.
[ Sunnah Ref: Riyad al Salihin 1879 ]

This Hadith is found in both Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, giving it the status of

مُتَّفَقٌ عَلَيْهِ
They agreed upon it

Meaning, Imam Bukhari and Muslim agreed upon it. This is important because although they both had the most stringent and rigorous of Hadith scrutiny, they differed in the emphasis. Imam Bukhari focused more on the reliability of each individual transmitter, while Imam Muslim was more careful with the transmission of the exact wording so their corroboration is a big deal although I couldn't find this hadith in earlier books. I may have missed it.

With that said, we move onto interpreting the text. The first thing to establish is that although the Prophet is speaking to a specific group of women, his speech here is clearly directed at women in general.

(1) - The fact that the prophet said most of the hell dwellers will be women. If the speech was directed at only that specific group of women the prophet was talking to, then it would not make sense to mention this as surely that group alone could not fill the vastness of hell on their own.

(2) It is well known that the witness of a woman is half a man's, in general. Not just for that one group of women.


So this should conclusively bury the idea that men and women are equal, at least in this worldly life. Lastly, we should bear in mind the Quranic command of obedience to the rulings of Islam:

The only statement of the [true] believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, "We hear and we obey." And those are the successful(24/51)

  • upon reflection there is a notable lack of madhab opinions, will rectify that in the future.
    – Hisham
    Commented Apr 16, 2023 at 4:38

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