Today, Islam is the only religion which establishes the status and rights of women in society in the true sense, and the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) champions these rights through his words and deeds.
The advent of Islam brought with it an abundance of pristine and revolutionary teachings, such that the world had never seen before. Great emphasis is given in Islam for upholding the rights of every faction in society, especially women. Before Islam, the treatment of women was deplorable, and Islam liberated women from the shackles of society and restored their true honour and sanctity. At present, however, Islam is the target of baseless and unfounded allegations and the media is riddled with misinformation on Islam’s stance on the rights of women. Islam’s true stance regarding women can only be ascertained by observing those who are practicing Islam in its true spirit.
Throughout his whole life, The Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmed (aba), has been advocating the rights of women and upholding their true honour and dignity. The true teachings of Islam presented and exemplified by him in this modern day and age reflect the honour bestowed to women by Islam and highlight how a true defender of women should be. He has spoken on many occasions around the world to raise awareness about the rights of women and continues to support and guide them in light of Islamic teachings. The following are different aspects of women’s rights spoken about by the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmed (aba):
‘After learning about the rights of women and the true teachings of Islam, I feel proud to be a woman. If only people would understand this, the world would become like Paradise.‘– Testimony of Maryam Ilyas, a non-Ahmadi woman
The Lofty Status of Women
Over the course of centuries, it is only recently that even in the West, women have been afforded their due rights, and been regarded as equal to men. Yet, even still, in certain parts of the world and certain cultures, women are regarded as inferior, incapable and not worthy of the same rights enjoyed by men.
From the outset, Islam has put an end to any such notion, and in fact, has afforded women a very lofty station, as the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) explains:
‘Islam is that religion which from the outset guaranteed the rights of all women. It is that religion which liberated women and established their true status and honour.’
His Holiness (aba) continued:
‘It is only in the past century, that those people and nations who condemn Islam, have been forced to afford some basic rights to women and yet they still try to claim moral superiority. Furthermore, in the name of ‘freedom’ they have fostered an environment in which women are treated as ‘objects’ and their dignity and true status is constantly undermined.’
As such, women are an integral part of society and the world at large. Whilst expounding on the crucial role of women in the world, the Caliph (aba) presented a beautiful example given by the Holy Prophet (sa) and elaborated:
‘The Holy Prophet (sa) admonishes those men who do not treat their wives well over the smallest of matters. He states that one must take care of the well-being and comfort of women because they have been created from the rib. He said that if one tries to straighten the rib it will break, but if one tries to benefit from the way it has been made then they will certainly take benefit from it.
What a beautiful example he has given! Two of the major organs are within the ribcage – the lungs and the heart. According to doctors, this is a very important part of the body which protects the heart and the lungs from all kinds of harm. Hence, the status of women is such that the life of society is only breathing through them and the beating of pure hearts is protected by them.’
Thus, Islam beautifully highlights the profound importance and lofty status of women, so much so that without them, no society or nation can function or thrive.
‘Listening to the addresses of the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community, today I learnt about the true rights and responsibilities of women. Otherwise, the torrid conditions the woman are enduring in Africa are such that people living in the developed world would not be able to comprehend. Your words are in harmony with your actions.” She writes, “If your actions and words are in harmony, then there is nobody better than you.‘– Testimony of Maryam Sahiba, a non-Ahmad woman
For centuries, women were so poorly regarded that their lives seemingly held no value at all. In pre-Islamic Arabia, the birth of a daughter was considered so shameful, that some would bury their girls alive. However, Islam brought about a revolution that would not only eradicate such notions, but would raise women to a status of pride, as the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) explains:
‘At a time when some tribes mourned the birth of a daughter, and some others buried their daughters alive, the Holy Prophet (sa) established the honour of women and elevated them to a status of pride. He did so by saying that while you mourn the birth of daughters and bury them alive, Islam gives you the glad tidings of paradise for raising them and educating them in the best possible manner. This is because they will soon become mothers who will lead their future progeny into paradise. Thus, if you have faith in God, rejoice at the birth of daughters and fulfil their rights. Worldly people may speak of the rewards of this world and that they will give such and such rewards in this world. However, they cannot speak about the rewards of the hereafter. It is only Islam which gives glad tidings of rewards in the hereafter for fulfilling the rights of one’s wife and daughter.’
Yet regrettably, there are those even today who are clouded by egregious cultural standards whereby women are regarded as being inferior. Describing this, the Caliph (aba) states:
‘Muslims coming from different backgrounds brought with them the traditions of their own nationalities, and men considered themselves to be superior, or, for whatever reason, even those who were well-versed in religious knowledge, began committing injustices. Without realising it, and whether they expressed it or not, these people developed the notion that in certain regards, women are inferior to men. They thought that in order to maintain their honour, men must maintain a gap between themselves and women, even if that meant doing so with their wives; if they are having a conversation, then women should not be allowed to speak in their presence; if they are outside, then men and women should walk at a distance from one another.’
What’s clear however, is that in Islam, stifling the voice of women, or treating them to be inferior in any way is contrary to the basic rights and equality afforded to them by Islam. The Caliph (aba) explained this once, through the example of Hazrat Umar (ra):
‘It is related about Hazrat ‘Umar (ra) that he said his wife interfered in his matters. He chided her saying who was she to interfere in his matters. Arabs could not tolerate a woman advising them. Hazrat ‘Umar’s (ra) wife replied that if the wives of the Holy Prophet (sa) could give him their advice and the Holy Prophet (sa) allowed this, then how could he put a stop to her counsel? Such was the courage that the Holy Prophet (sa) inculcated in women, with his blessed model and his teaching.’
The same message is echoed today by the Caliph, who states:
‘Remember that the key for any nation to thrive and progress lies in the hands of the mothers of that nation.’
On another occasion he stated:
‘In the establishment and development of any nation or community, the women play a fundamental and vital role, as the responsibility for the training of the future generations lies in the hands of mothers. They are the nation builders…Take pride in the fact that your primary duty is to raise the standards of the future generations, by setting the very highest standards for them to learn from and follow.’
Thus, where some would seek to degrade women and regard them as inferior, Islam raises them to a station of such importance, that the very future of our societies and nations depend upon them. These are the same standards upheld today by the Ahmadiyya Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba).
‘Today, I learnt something from your Khalifa, which is that in Islam, women have the full right to express their opinion and that Islam grants women the right to choose their life partner in marriage. However, in some cultures, people are forced into marriage and the rights of people are overlooked.‘– Testimony of a non-Ahmadi teacher from Lusaka, Zambia
Women’s Rights and Equality
In the past 100 years or so, the fight for women’s rights has garnered increasing momentum. Many have tried to make a scapegoat of Islam and blame it for the failure of society up until now. However, nothing could be further from the truth, as Islam has always established the rights of women. In this regard, the Caliph (aba) states:
‘The allegation of denying women’s rights cannot be pinpointed on the teachings of Islam. Nobody can allege that Islamic laws usurp the rights of women. Nobody can justifiably raise the objection that the Law-Bearing Book [the Holy Qur’an] that Muslims take pride in and that covers every aspect of law and gives the best solutions on every aspect of life for Muslims, eliminates the rights of women. If anyone raises this objection, it is completely wrong and unjust.’
Furthermore, feminists demand absolute equality between men and women. Where Islam categorically establishes equality of men and women, it does so while keeping in consideration the qualities and faculties which are unique to both men and women. This in essence establishes equality in its truest, and purest form. In explanation of the deep wisdom behind these teachings, the Caliph (aba) states:
‘Although Islam says there is a difference in the physical makeup of men and women and also in their responsibilities; in terms of intellect, just as man has been given intelligence, women too have been given intelligence. Just as men have been commanded to acquire education, women have also been commanded to educate themselves. As such, Allah the Almighty has granted equal capabilities and means for both men and women to progress and advance. He has granted them both intellect, so that they utilise their wisdom and activate their mental faculties and strive to excel one another. Men cannot claim that they have exclusively been granted intelligence and only they can utilise it to advance. Nor can a woman profess that only she has been given intellect and she alone can progress with it. Allah the Almighty has given a mind, brain, wisdom and knowledge to both men and women to procure knowledge and insight. No man can say that a woman’s intellect has reached a peak beyond which she cannot progress and that only men can develop their intellect beyond a certain degree. Similarly, language and the ability to speak have been given to both men and women. If men can become great orators and have the potential to demonstrate such abilities, then women too can become just as good orators – and they are! It was precisely this exalted example of spiritual and secular knowledge and of progress which led to the companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) listening to the lectures of Hazrat Ayesha (ra) [the wife of the Holy Prophet (sa)], to increase their knowledge. Thus, 1400 years ago Islam paved the way for both women and men to increase their knowledge and use their intellect. Guidance was also given on how to utilise this knowledge appropriately and a completely free license was not granted. The chastity of women has also been exhorted and she has been allowed to carry out all of this within the boundaries of modesty and purdah[the veil].’
So what is the verdict? What does Islam say about the rights of women and the equality of men and women? What rights did Islam grant to women that were never given to them before? In this regard, the Caliph (aba) states:
‘Only the Holy Qur'an has recognised that women share the same sentiments and desires as men. Therefore, where Allah the Almighty establishes the rights of men, He also states that women should be given their due rights, by declaring:
وَ لَھُنَّ مِثۡلُ الَّذِیۡ عَلَیۡھِنَّ “And they (the women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them.”(2:229)
Moreover, Islam has granted countless rights to women. As I have mentioned, both men and women are granted an equal reward for doing good. Women have also been given the right to inheritance, and a woman has full right over the wealth that she earns; and it is forbidden to deprive women of their right to an inheritance. God Almighty says that they must be given their share in inheritance and that this right of theirs should not be usurped. It is also forbidden to prevent women from getting married for the sake of causing them harm, and there are many more commandments similar to these.’
Thus, Islam is the only religion which has established the rights and true equlity of men and women, and enshirined these teachings in its Holy Scripture, which will forever serve as the guiding principle for all societies, in all times to come. As a true leader in Islam, the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) is at the forefront of bearing the mantle for ensuring the equality of men and women, as afforded by the pristine teachings of Islam.
‘I listened to an address of the Imam of the Ahmadiyya Community for the first time. It has become plainly clear for me that if there is anyone in the world today who is fulfilling the respect and honour given to women by our Master, the Holy Prophet (sa), it is the Ahmadiyya Community.”’– Testimony of ‘Nafisa Adamoos, a non-Ahmadi woman from Niger
‘The entire family sat together to listen to the addresses of the Caliph, especially the address to the ladies, in which the rights of women in Islam were explained. Having listened to this address, we ought to prostrate before Allah the Almighty even more than before at just how Allah the Almighty has safeguarded the rights of us women.’– Testimony of Atakhanova Dilyara, a non-Ahmadi woman
Promoting the Education of Women
Islam has laid great emphasis on the importance of seeking knowledge. The Holy Prophet (sa) stated that the pursuit of knowledge is a duty of every Muslim man and woman. Throughout the early history of Islam women played a significant and vital role in the advancement of knowledge and greatly excelled in education. However, over time and owing to erroneous interpretations of the so-called scholars to fulfil their vested interests, they promote the view that women should not have equal access to education, as a result of which, many women have wrongfully been denied of this fundamental right established by Islam.
In light of true Islamic principles, the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has been at the forefront of championing women’s right to education. Whilst addressing the female youth of the Community, His Holiness (aba) stated,
‘Nowhere does Islam say that women should be confined to the home as is sometimes alleged. For example, there are some girls and ladies, who excel in studies and achieve extraordinary results and Islam does not instruct that they should waste their talents or skills and only stay at home.’
The Caliph (aba) further stated,
‘Thus, women who have the capacity to become doctors or teachers or to pursue other professions which are of benefit to humanity can do so. However, at the same time, they should not ignore their duties to their children and to their families. Such women should manage their time effectively and ensure that their children are not neglected in any way.’
With the increasing attention on women’s equality, it has now become a prevailing notion that women who do not go out to work are in some way restricted, confined or not actively engaged in their society. However, the Caliph (aba) dispels any such notion when he states:
‘Those girls who are well-educated, but who do not go out to work professionally, should never bear any form of inferiority complex or feel embarrassed or as though they are wasting their talents. The truth is that looking after your homes, and caring for and raising your children, is of profound importance and of priceless value.’
Thus, the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has beautifully highlighted the balance struck by Islam, whereby women are in no way restricted from higher pursuits, but are encouraged to do so, whilst also maintaining the responsibilities entrusted to them by their faith with regards to the upbringing of the future generation.
As the Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) leads as a true example of Islam’s beautiful teachings regarding the education of women by continuously encouraging and inspiring Ahmadi women to excel in all fields of knowledge. Whilst delivering a keynote address at the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Headquarters in Paris, the Caliph (aba) stated:
‘Based upon these teachings, Ahmadi Muslim girls across the world are educated and are excelling in various fields. They are becoming doctors, teachers and architects and entering other professions through which they can serve humanity. We ensure that girls are given equal access to education as boys. Hence, the literacy rate of Ahmadi Muslim girls in the developing world is at least 99%.’
On another occasion, the Caliph (aba) said:
'Ahmadi women are more educated than men, Ahmadi women are doctors, they’re practicing doctors, they’re engineers, they’re lawyers. They’re research workers, scientists. So, their rights have never been denied.' 
The level of education attained by Ahmadi women is a testament to the Caliph’s enduring efforts in ensuring that women excel in all fields of knowledge and education, as supported by the true teachings of Islam.
‘The teachings about women presented by Islam cannot be found anywhere else, and I have never seen any other person raising a voice in favour of women´s rights in this way before.’– Testimony of a Catholic friend in Uganda
The Caliph, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) has delivered countless keynote addresses accross the world on a number of different occasions, in which he highlights the true and beautiful teachings of Islam, including Islam’s teachings on women’s rights and equality. Not only are these addresses a source of guidance and inspiration for Ahmadi women around the world, but they serve as a means of educating and enlightening those who are not fully acquainted with the teachings of Islam, or in some cases may be misinformed regarding them.
Thus, in the age of Social Media, where misconceptions are rife, it’s easy to be swept away by a myriad of misconceptions and misinformation. Rest assured, there is no misinformation in the fact that today, the Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) stands at the forefront in championing, through his words and deeds, the true Islamic teachings regarding the rights and equality of women.
- Address at Waqfat-e-Nau Ijtema 2012
2. Sahih Bukhari, Kitab-un-Nikah, Bab al-Wisaatu bin-Nisaa’, Hadith# 5186
3. Address to Ladies, Jalsa Salana Germany 2017
5. Address to Ladies, Jalsa Salana UK 2016
6. Address to Ladies, Jalsa Salana UK 2008
7. Address at Waqfat-e-Nau Ijtema 2017
8. Address at Waqfat-e-Nau Ijtema 2018
9. Address to Ladies, Jalsa Salana Germany 2016
11. Address to Ladies, Jalsa Salana UK 2016
12. Address at Waqfat-e-Nau Ijtema 2017
14. Address at UNESCO – 8 October 2019
15. Address at inauguration of Regina Mosque – 4 November 2016