A woman's femininity
Islam appreciates the woman’s femininity
Woman is an integral part of man because of her femininity, just as he is an integral part of her. The man and woman are neither opponents nor rivals. Rather, they help each other to attain perfection with regard to their personality and gender. The norms that have been set by Allah The Almighty imply that duality should be a characteristic of all creatures. Hence, we find males and females in the world of humans, animals, and plants. Even non-living things, which include electricity, magnets, and atoms, consist of positive and negative charges. Atoms include electrons, which are negative, and protons, which are positive. The Noble Quran referred to this fourteen centuries ago in the verse where Allah The Almighty Says (what means): "And of all things We Created two mates; perhaps you will remember." [Quran 51:49]
The male and the female are like a container and its cover, and like a thing and its requisite. Neither of them can do without the other. When Allah The Almighty created the first human soul, Aadam (Adam), may Allah exalt his mention, He created from it its spouse so that they would live together. Allah The Almighty did not leave Aadam, may Allah exalt his mention, alone, even though this loneliness was in Paradise. Divine speech was directed to them both, whether orders or prohibitions. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): "And We said, “O Aadam, dwell, you and your wife, in Paradise and eat therefrom in [ease and] abundance from wherever you will. But do not approach this tree, lest you be among the wrongdoers.” [Quran 2:35]
The woman is different from man because, and so that, they complete one another. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): "And the male is not like the female." [Quran 3:36] Positive charges are different from negative charges. However, women are not created to be opponents or rivals to men. They are created from and for men. Allah The Almighty Says (what means):
- "You [believers] are of one another." [Quran 4:25]
- "And Allah has made for you from yourselves mates." [Quran 16:72]
One of the implications of the Wisdom of Allah The Almighty is His making the woman’s physical and psychological structure attract and find attraction in men. Allah The Almighty created in men and women a strong natural sexual instinct that drives them to have intercourse with one other, so that life would go on and humans would continue to exist. Hence, Islam refuses any system that contradicts or disables this natural instinct, such as monasticism. Moreover, it bans the gratification of this energy through anything other than marriage, which is the basis of the family. Hence, Islam, like other divine religions, has prohibited adultery and forbade all kinds of immoral acts, what is apparent of them as well as what is concealed. It blocks all gates that could lead to these immoral acts so as to protect men and women from excitement and factors of temptation. From this perspective, Islam treats women well, determines how their relationship with men should be and establishes its systems, directives and rulings. It guards the woman’s femininity and acknowledges its implications. Thus, it neither suppresses it nor eradicates it. It prevents her from following a way that leads her to immorality, abuses her femininity and protects her from human scavengers that kidnap women to rape them and then discard them. The stance of Islam on woman's femininity can be summed up in the following points:
1- Islam preserves the woman's femininity to remain a source of compassion, kindness, delicateness, and beauty. Hence, it allows them to do some things that are unlawful for men, for example, wearing gold and pure silk. Such acts are in harmony with the nature and role of women. The Messenger of Allah, , said: “These two things [Gold and Silk] are unlawful for the males of my Ummah [Nation] and lawful for its females." [Ibn Maajah]
Moreover, Islam forbids women from anything that is against their femininity. For example, it forbids women from imitating men in their clothes, movement and conduct. Islam forbids women from wearing men's clothes, and vice versa. It curses women who assume a masculine attitude and vice versa. The Messenger of Allah, , said: “There are three categories of people who will not enter Paradise and at whom Allah will not look on the Day of Resurrection: those who are undutiful to their parents, women who assume masculine attitude, and men approving indecency among their womenfolk.” [Ahmad, An-Nasaa’i and Al-Haakim]
2- Islam protects the woman's femininity and shows mercy towards her fragility. It makes the woman forever in the custody of men, meaning, that of her father, husband, children, or brothers, who provide for her and give her all that she needs. Such men are required by the Sharee‘ah to provide for her. Consequently, women would be in no need of being involved in the hardships of life and competing with men in order to earn their living.
3- Islam protects the woman’s morals, modesty, reputation and dignity. It maintains her chastity from ill thoughts, words, and actions. Hence, Islam orders women to:
A) Lower their gaze and maintain their chastity and cleanliness. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): "And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts." [Quran 24:31]
B) Wear decent clothes and hide their beauty. Islam does not overburden women. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): "And not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests." [Quran 24:31] “Which [necessarily] appears thereof" was interpreted to refer either to kohl and rings; or to the face and hands, or to all these things in addition to the feet.
C) Hide their hidden beauty, for example the hair, neck, chest, arms and legs, in front of non-Mahram (i.e., marriageable) men. This does not apply to their husbands and Mahram men, for it is difficult for women to hide their beauty in front of their Mahram men. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): "And not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands' fathers, their sons, their husbands' sons, their brothers, their brothers' sons, their sisters' sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women." [Quran 24:31]
D) Be serious when walking and speaking. Allah The Almighty Says (what means):
· "And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment." [Quran 24:31]
· "Then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech." [Quran 33:32]
Women are not prohibited from speaking. Their voice is not considered ‘Awrah (i.e., compulsory to be concealed). However, they are ordered to speak appropriately.
E) Avoid all that which tempts and attracts the attention of men, for example, exposing what they are not permitted to expose of their beauty, which is peculiar to the first or last period of Jaahiliyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) . Chaste women avoid such things. The Messenger of Allah, , said: “If a woman applies perfume and goes out to make people smell her, then she is an adulteress.” [Abu Daawood and others]
“Then she is an adulteress” means that this woman is doing what an adulterer does, even if she is not a real adulterer. Women must not do such things.
F) Avoid being in seclusion with any man who is not their husband or one of their Mahrams, so as to protect herself and the man from ill thoughts, and to protect her reputation from evil tongues. The Messenger of Allah, , said: “It is impermissible for a man to be alone with a [non-Mahram] woman, unless she is accompanied by her Mahram.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
G) Avoid mixed company, unless there is a necessity and a considerable interest. If so, she is allowed to stay in mixed company no more than needed. Examples include, performing prayer in mosques, seeking knowledge and co-operation in kindness and piety. By observing these conditions concerning mixed company, women will not be deprived of co-operation in serving their community.
Through these rulings, Islam protects the women's femininity from human predators. It also protects women's modesty and chastity by keeping them away from factors of deviation and misguidance. Moreover, it protects their honor from the evil tongues of human predators and wicked people who spread false rumors. Furthermore, it protects their souls and nerves from tension, worry, shocks and disturbances, which are the result of overactive imagination and of occupying oneself with various means of sexual excitement. Through these rulings and legislation, Islam also protects men from the factors of deviation and worry, and protects the whole community from all that leads to degradation and moral decay.