Protection of women in the Qur'an

Providing maintenance for divorced women:

Allah states in the Qur'an that providing maintenance for divorced women is an obligation for all men of faith:

Divorced women should receive maintenance given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all who believe. (Surat al-Baqara: 241)

The amount of the maintenance is to be determined by mutual agreement of the involved parties. While determining this amount, believers assume a conscientious attitude and take into account the social status and the needs of the woman. The appropriate behaviour Allah recommends believers is stated as follows:

… But give them a gift—he who is wealthy according to his means and he who is less well off according to his means—a gift to be given with correctness and courtesy: a duty for all good-doers. (Surat al-Baqara: 236)

He who has plenty should spend out from his plenty, but he whose provision is restricted should spend from what Allah has given him. Allah does not demand from any self more than He has given it. Allah will appoint after difficulty, ease. (Surat at-Talaq: 7)

Whether well-off or poor, Allah commands believers to support women in a manner commensurate with their own means. In societies which do not live by the values of religion, generously supporting an ex-wife, from whom one can no longer derive any benefits, is regarded as vain spending. This being so, the people in question try to give the minimum alimony possible and to this end even resort to fraudulence. However, guided by his conscience and his compassion, a believer never reneges on such an obligation. After all, he performs this duty as a good deed which will earn him the approval of Allah. That he has no further expectations from her or that she has fallen in his estimation, never influences his attitude. Besides, his humane feelings and compassion incline him to support a person who is in need. For that reason, those who are well-off make adequate provision for divorced women to have a good standard of living. Similarly, a poor person does not shirk this responsibility, by saying, "I have insufficient means"; he fulfils this responsibility in the best way he can. 

Not taking back the properties given to women after divorce:

If you desire to exchange one wife for another and have given your original wife a large amount, do not take any of it. Would you take it by means of slander and outright crime? How could you take it when you have been intimate with one another and they have made a binding contract with you? (Surat an-Nisa': 20-21)

In compliance with the command implicit in the above verses, upon the decision to divorce, a man of faith makes no request whatsoever to take back the properties he formerly gave to his wife. That is because these properties were meant to be a safeguard for the woman and their loss may put her in difficulty. To prevent such an undesirable situation, Allah imposes this condition upon male believers, thereby securing the social well-being of women.

Besides, the extent of this property does not lessen the obligation this verse imposes upon a man. Even if a believing man has given all his possessions to his spouse, he does not request the return of anything after separation.

As is evident, these commands of the Qur'an make manifest the superiority of the understanding of mercy the Qur'an offers to believers. At the cost of placing themselves in difficulties, believers never depart from the Qur'anic notion of mercy conveyed in these verses, and fully comply with it.

Lodging divorced women:

Thanks to the merciful attitude the Qur'an enjoins upon man, believers do not leave the women they divorce in a desperate situation without providing them with adequate means to live. Women may not have a family that can take care of them or even a house in which to stay. Considering these and similar conditions, believers, although divorced, ensure the welfare of women, until they find a way to support themselves.

Upon their mutual decision, believers allow the women they divorce to live in their own houses or in some other place under their control. Their main intention here is to earn the approval of Allah and to display a compassionate attitude to another believer. Other than this, they have no other expectation. During this period, Allah recommends that believing men should not engage in any deed which would do any harm to women they divorced or put them in a difficult situation. This affectionate approach displayed towards women is explained in the verse below:

Let them live where you live, according to your means. Do not put pressure on them, so as to harass them. If they are pregnant, maintain them until they give birth. If they are suckling for you, give them their wages and consult together with correctness and courtesy. But if you make things difficult for one another, another woman should do the suckling for you. (Surat at-Talaq: 6)

The second part of the verse recommends that believers display moral perfection while settling any problems that may arise after divorce, and that they resolve all disputes in compliance with Islamic rules. The values that ensure such a settlement no doubt stem from the fear of Allah a person harbours in his heart, and conscience. Believers, who value a person primarily because of his or her faith, can in no way allow anything harmful to happen to him or her, nor can they put that person in a difficult situation. To come up to this standard of moral perfection, men of faith provide lodging to and otherwise meet the needs of their divorced wives, as long as they ask for such support.

Not inheriting women against their will:

You who believe! It is not lawful for you to inherit women by force. Nor may you treat them harshly so that you can make off with part of what you have given them, unless they commit an act of flagrant indecency. Live together with them correctly and courteously… (Surat an-Nisa': 19)

Allah warns believers against inheriting women against their will, except in situations in which women commit an explicit indecency. Never exerting any pressure on women, believing men allow women to make use of their possessions in any way they please after divorce.

However, we must bear in mind that, being so scrupulous comes from observing Qur'anic morality. Due to believers' adherence to Qur'anic principles firmly based on the fear of Allah, there is no diminution of the mercy shown by them to women, no matter what the circumstances. Indeed, even in an environment where there is no one to bear witness to their conduct, their compassionate attitude never alters. Aware that Allah witnesses every deed they do, believers commit themselves to never swerving from moral perfection.

In the Qur'an, there are numerous other verses about the measures that secure the protection of women with compassion and the prevention of their suffering. All these explicitly reveal how Qur'anic morality encourages the showing of mercy to women and how believers commit themselves to displaying this noble attitude. (For further reading, see Harun Yahya “The mercy of believers” )

2010-11-22 22:18:24

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