Assalamualaikum. I have just started to read the Al-quran religiously and looked at the translation as I want to understand what I'm reading. However, there are some questions that linger in my head as I read more. I'm rather curious about the position of women in Islam especially as portrayed in the Al-quran. This is because, in the Al-quran the mere mention of men is highly praised compared to women. For example: We created Hawa for Adam; if you obey God as a Mukmin then you shall enter Jannah where angels (women) await you; women need to cover their aurah so that men won't be sinful; and many more. It seems to me that women are just "additional characters" and their creation is merely for men. I don't want to think ill about this, but I can't help to wonder what is my purpose of being created then as a woman? For men? I feel so down and low
Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,
The most important thing to realize is that both men and women are persons with souls. They are equal in this aspect, and this is the most important aspect of their existence. Regardless of women’s status with respect to men, the essential point is that they are men’s equals as persons. They just happen to inhabit a female body that has its own nature and duties. So the physical fact of being a woman has no relationship to her spiritual status as a person before God.
It is true that the Quran puts men in charge of women. But rather than thinking of this as a master-slave relationship, think of it as the relationship between a president and a vice president in a government. They are both servants of the people. The president does not look at the vice president as an inferior human; they are both equal, it is just that in order for the government to operate properly, one of them needs to be in charge, and the other needs to operate within this framework for the benefit of herself and for the benefit of the government and the people.
A woman’s spiritual status comes from God and has nothing to do with men. Men are nothing compared to God. So a pious Muslim woman derives her worth and her identity from her relationship to God; the fact that she is not exactly the same as men in society is of very little importance compared to her spiritual status before God.
It is true that when it comes to gender-specific verses, the Quran often speaks to men rather than women. But if you look at the Quran as a whole, you will find that the vast majority of it (perhaps 99%) speaks equally to both men and women. God has sufficient wisdom to write His revelation in a way that ensures the religion will survive for thousands of years and will continue to satisfy the needs of the humans who follow it. Just because some of the gender-specific verses are directed more often toward men than women should not be taken as an insult, it is a choice that God has made out of His wisdom.
Do not make men the standard that you judge yourself by. Your status comes from your relationship with God. Once you realize the honor and dignity that God has bestowed upon you, men and their status will be of little importance to you. You are a human, a person with a soul, standing before God. Everything else is of little importance compared to this essential fact.
In the spiritual realm, women are not merely additional characters. They are spiritual persons that the Quran constantly speaks to. It is only in the unimportant physical realm that women are in some cases men’s helpers. A materialist would not like this and would seek complete material equality, thinking this is the most important thing in life. But the Quran considers this unimportant. The Quran focuses on the spiritual persons regardless of their sex and focuses on their attaining success in the Hereafter. The material world is merely a means, a tool, for acquiring this success. It is unwise to focus on the means and forget the ultimate goal.
You are not created for men. You are a spiritual person created to worship God. Men are only there to accomplish unimportant material goals. It is the spiritual goals that the Quran focuses on, and when it comes to spirituality men and women are perfectly equal. Your purpose has nothing to do with men and has everything to do with God. It is just that by inhabiting a female body and having a female brain, your material place in this universe has certain aspects that make you differ from men and put you in a special relationship with them. You are not supposed to derive your worth, status or purpose in life from your relationship with men. It is your relationship with God that matters.