Equality Between Men and Women
Fatwa No: 381173

Question

I wanted to ask that, is that true that men are far better then women? as ibn kathir said:because men are superior to women, and men are better than women. (Tafsir Ibn Kathir under Surah Nisa verse 34)Some people say above is not true as Shaykh Ahhmad bin Suleman Ayyub said in Mosuwat Mahasin al Islam wa Radd Shubhaat al Lam vol 10 page 630"Men are Qawwam over women does not mean that the dhaat of men is better than dhaat of women"Then he quotes ibn taymiyah that"Fadhl of al Jins does not require the fadhl over shakhs. Sometimes a Habashi is better from Majority of Quraish in the sight of Allah" [Iqtidha Sirat al Mustaqeem 1/453]which of the above statement is correct according to islam? Either men are far better then women or qawwam does not mean they are better than women?

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah, and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger.

What Ibn Katheer and other interpreters of the Quran mentioned is true, that the gender of the man is better than the gender of the woman; this is proven in the book of Allah, Allah Says (what means): {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.} [Quran 4:34]

The verse clarified that men are in charge of women due to two reasons: one is the difference in their creation, and the other is because of provisions. The one about the creation is related to man’s characteristics like mental, psychological, and physical formation. In exchange for this distinction, man shoulders more responsibilities in all matters that require physical strength, such as Jihad and so on. As for provisions, then it is because man is responsible for spending on his wife, whereas she is not obliged to spend on her own self or her husband even if she is rich.

As for the statement that you quoted from that man, then if he intended to deny the superiority of the gender of the man over the gender of the woman, then this is wrong.

Although this preference is the principle rule regarding both genders, however, on the individual level, it is not general that every man is better than all women and vice versa. There are many women who are better than their husbands in knowledge, religious commitment, righteous deeds, sound opinion and so forth. Allah Says (what means): {Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you.} [Quran 49:13]

Islam equates between men and women with regard to the obligation which they are ordered to fulfill. In principle, women are addressed with the Islamic commandments that men are addressed with. Islam also made men and women equal in regard to reward and punishment. Allah Says (what means): {Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer - We will surely cause him to live a good life, and We will surely give them their reward [in the Hereafter] according to the best of what they used to do.} [Quran 16:97]

What we mentioned above is the meaning of the statement you quoted in your question from Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him.

Allah knows best.

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