This debate has been going on for as long as I can remember. It is argued that men are far superior to women based on their intellect, their strength, their abilities etc. Yet I don’t believe that to be true. You cannot be superior to another being on basis of god-gifted qualities! For if a man has more intellect, strength, capabilities as compared to a woman, then he has Allah to thank for that. He has not achieved them on his own; therefore he has no superiority over the other. How then is one superior? One way to determine could be, that the one who accomplishes the most through sheer hard work and resolve is the one who is superior. Furthermore according to Islam the one (man or woman) who possesses a high character is superior in the sight of Allah. Therefore we cannot just label one gender i.e. men superior than the other i.e. women.
It is said that men lead in all fields namely science, medicine, IT, culinary, sports, media, writing, politics and many others, but just hold on a moment. Do women even get half the opportunities men do? Women are bound by so many social factors and constraints. Female education began as late as the nineteenth century, and still isn’t welcomed in some parts of the world, women finally got the right to vote in the early twentieth century and there are countless other issues where equal rights have not been given to women. So how can there be a comparison when there is no equality among the two. Comparison is always done between two entities that have some similarities, while in this man made world the only thing common between man and woman is that they are human beings! To quote Clare Boothe Luce “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed. If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.” They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”
Women have never lagged behind men in any field, and have proven their worth whenever they have gotten the chance. Among hundreds and thousands of high achievers some who are truly commendable include Joan of Arc who was the only person ever recorded to have commanded the entire army of a nation at the age of seventeen and freed her country (France) from the English domination. Madam Curie was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the first and only person to date, to be awarded a Nobel Prize in two branches of science i.e. Physics and Chemistry and was the first female professor at the University of Paris. Florence Nightingale was the founder of modern nursing, a writer and a well-known statistician. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross, for her flight across the Atlantic Ocean. She set many other records, wrote successful books about her flying experiences, and was the force behind the formation of ‘The Ninety Nines’, an organization for women pilots.
In politics we have Margaret Thatcher who is the only female who held the dual positions, that of a prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and also as leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. In the Asian continent we had our very own Benazir Bhutto who was the first woman to be elected as head of a Muslim state.
Khalida Zia who ruled Bangladesh for nearly 10 years, was elected to five separate parliamentary constituencies a feat unachieved by any other politician in Bangladeshi history. In 2006, Forbes ranked her 33rd in the list of the 100 ‘most powerful women in the world’. Indira Gandhi was India’s first and to date only female prime minister, who served for 4 consecutive terms. Whereas when it comes to ruling a country, Queen Elizabeth II has surpassed not just her great-great grandmother Queen Victoria but all male monarchs as she has been head of United Kingdom for 66 years thus creating history. Mary Mannes once said “Nobody objects to a woman being a good writer or sculptor or geneticist if at the same time she manages to be a good wife, a good mother, good-looking, good-tempered, well-dressed, well-groomed, and unaggressive”
Whereas in view of our own religion, those of you who have studied it carefully will know that women have great importance in the Islamic system. The worth of a woman can be understood by these words of Hazrat Muhammad (SAW) he said: “The world and all things in the world are precious but the most precious thing in the world is a virtuous woman”. Also on the day of judgment Allah promises both (men and women) the same reward as it is stated in very clear words that, “And whoever does righteousness and good deeds, male or female, and is a (true) believer, such will enter heaven and not the least injustice, even to the size of a Naqira (the groove on the date stone) will be done to them” (4:124).
Though it is true that in many matters Allah has given men precedence over women but men have misused the authority bestowed upon them. It has been declared in this verse that “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women because Allah has given one, more (strength) than the other and because they support them from their means” (4:34). This shows that they are superior physically, only because men participate in Jihad and are the ones who earn for the family. That is their responsibility, while women have been given the responsibility of raising the children and looking after the house in their absence. Nonetheless man has never given a woman her due respect in this capacity either, while it has been said, “in accordance with justice, the rights of the wives [with regard to their husbands] are equal to the [husbands] rights with regard to them” (2:228).
Well I have presented my case, and now it is up to you to decide who is superior Man or Woman!