Rights of Expression

The Qur'an informs us that women in a Qur'anic society not only have the right to express themselves freely but she is in such a position that she may even argue and hold discussions with the head of the community.

The messenger of Allah (p) who was not only the divine emissary to his people but also the first head of the Islamic state, gave so much freedom in society that the people, including women were in a position to argue with him. The Qur'an records this in the Sura titled "Al-Mujadilah" (the title of the Sura itself means "the woman who argues"). We are informed:

"Allah indeed knows the plea of her who argues with you (O messenger) about her husband and complains to Allah, and Allah knows the contentions of both of you; surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing." (58:1)

Women are also to take an active part in public life. In Sura Al-Mumtahina we are informed of their public allegiance to the Prophet (See 60:12). Along with men, women were also included in these public discussions with the office bearers of the Islamic state: (See 60:10).

Right To Select A Life Partner

For the subject of marriage, the Qur'an has provided detailed guidance. We are told that marriage is the name of a contract between consenting adults who are believers in the divine values. It is clarified that women cannot be forced to get married and thus they have the right to express their will. The following verse tells us:

"O you who believe! You are FORBIDDEN to inherit women AGAINST THEIR WILL. Nor should you treat them with harshness that you may take away part of the dower you have given them -except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If you take a dislike to them it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good." (4:19)

In Sura An-Nisa, the believing man is also given the permission to marry women of his choice, thus he too can exercise his free will. As reminded;

"If you fear that it will not be possible to find an equitable solution of the problems of 'Yatama' (widows and orphans in society) otherwise, then marry women of your choice among them, by twos, threes or fours (as the situation demands), but if you fear that you will not do justice, then marry only one.."(4:3)

Thus both believing women as well as men have been given the right to have a say in their marriage, i.e. women cannot be married forcefully and men also have been given the right to marry women of their choice, as the expression in Arabic reads, "fankihu maa ta'aba lakum" (4:3)

Then again in (4:21), regarding marriage it is stated that women have taken a 'meesaq' (contract) from men;

"And how could you take it when you have gone in unto each other and they (Your wives) have Taken from you a solemn covenant?