Jalsa Salana/Annual Conventions

Women’s Rights and Equality in Light of the Holy Qur’an

Address by His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) during the Ladies’s Session at Jalsa Salana (Annual Convention) UK 2016.

After reciting Tashahhud, Ta’awwuz and Surah al-Fatihah, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih V (aba) said:

‘According to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an, both women and men have been created for the same purpose: to attain the nearness of God Almighty. Allah the Almighty desires for both believing men and women (whether they are people of nobility or from the general public, or whether they are rich or poor) to recognise the purpose of their creation. Allah the Almighty states:

وَ مَا خَلَقۡتُ الۡجِنَّ وَ الۡاِنۡسَ اِلَّا لِیَعۡبُدُوۡنِ

“And I have not created the Jinn and men but that they may worship Me.” [51:57]

This is addressed to both men and women. Furthermore, Allah the Almighty has given glad tidings to men and women who adhere to His commandments, fulfil the rights owed to Him, and act according to His teachings. Thus, God Almighty has addressed men and women individually while giving them the glad tidings of heaven. In some instances, He uses the term ‘mankind’ or ‘believers’ but in the following instance, He has addressed both men and women when giving the glad tidings of heaven. Allah the Almighty states in Surah al-Taubah:

وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنٰتُ بَعۡضُھُمۡ اَوۡلِیَآءُ بَعۡضٍ ۘ یَاۡمُرُوۡنَ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَ یَنۡھَوۡنَ عَنِ الۡمُنۡکَرِ وَ یُقِیۡمُوۡنَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ یُؤۡتُوۡنَ الزَّکٰوۃَ وَ یُطِیۡعُوۡنَ اللّٰہَ وَ رَسُوۡلَہٗ ؕ اُولٰٓئِکَ سَیَرۡحَمُھُمُ اللّٰہُ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ عَزِیۡزٌ حَکِیۡمٌ

“And the believers, men and women, are friends of one another. They enjoin good and forbid evil and observe prayer and pay the Zakat and obey Allah and His Messenger. It is these on whom Allah will have mercy. Surely, Allah is Mighty, Wise.” [9:71]

God further states:

وَعَدَ اللّٰہُ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنٰتِ جَنّٰتٍ تَجۡرِیۡ مِنۡ تَحۡتِھَا الۡاَنۡھٰرُ خٰلِدِیۡنَ فِیۡھَا وَ مَسٰکِنَ طَیِّبَۃً فِیۡ جَنّٰتِ عَدۡنٍ ؕ وَ رِضۡوَانٌ مِّنَ اللّٰہِ اَکۡبَرُ ؕ ذٰلِکَ ھُوَ الۡفَوۡزُ الۡعَظِیۡمُ

“Allah has promised to believers, men and women, Gardens beneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide, and delightful dwelling-places in Gardens of Eternity. And the pleasure of Allah is the greatest of all. That is the supreme triumph.” [9:72]

Thus, it is evidently clear, that the same reward granted to men – the reward granted to believers – is also granted to women. Nowhere is it written that women will be given anything less, that they will receive an inferior reward, or that women will not be able to achieve the same rank as men in heaven. In fact, Allah the Almighty states that doing good and giving precedence to Him is essential; thereafter, women will be granted an equal reward to men. Men are not given special distinction, in fact, at another instance God states that both men and women will be granted a great reward, provided that they do good deeds. He has also explained exactly what good deeds entail when He states:

اِنَّ الۡمُسۡلِمِیۡنَ وَ الۡمُسۡلِمٰتِ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ وَ الۡمُؤۡمِنٰتِ وَ الۡقٰنِتِیۡنَ وَ الۡقٰنِتٰتِ وَ الصّٰدِقِیۡنَ وَ الصّٰدِقٰتِ وَ الصّٰبِرِیۡنَ وَ الصّٰبِرٰتِ وَ الۡخٰشِعِیۡنَ وَ الۡخٰشِعٰتِ وَ الۡمُتَصَدِّقِیۡنَ وَ الۡمُتَصَدِّقٰتِ وَ الصَّآئِمِیۡنَ وَ الصّٰٓئِمٰتِ وَ الۡحٰفِظِیۡنَ فُرُوۡجَھُمۡ وَ الۡحٰفِظٰتِ وَ الذّٰکِرِیۡنَ اللّٰہَ کَثِیۡرًا وَّ الذّٰکِرٰتِ ۙ اَعَدَّ اللّٰہُ لَھُمۡ مَّغۡفِرَۃً وَّ اَجۡرًا عَظِیۡمًا

“Surely men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much, and women who remember Him – Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward.” [33:36]

Thus, God Almighty has promised that those who do deeds that are worthy of a great reward, irrespective of whether they are being carried out by men or women, will be equally rewarded. God has explained these good deeds, and if we wish to attain the love and pleasure of Allah the Almighty and desire to be rewarded by Him, then we must always seek to carry out these good deeds.

Similarly, in various other instances, believing men and women have been individually addressed. There are also many commandments wherein men and women have both been addressed using the term ‘believers’ however, when Allah the Almighty uses the term ‘believer’ (Mo’min) in commandments, it also includes women.

In fact, one of the beauties of the Holy Qur’an, is that wherever it is possible to address and remind both men and women of their responsibilities, it uses the term ‘believers’ (Mo’mineen). Furthermore, when the Holy Qur’an specifically seeks to establish the rights of both men and women, reward them, give them glad tidings of heaven, and where it deems it necessary to remind them of their responsibilities, motivate them by mentioning rewards and rekindle their relationship with Allah the Almighty, it addresses them individually with the terms, ‘believing men’ (Mo’mineen) and ‘believing women’ (Mo’minaat).

Those who oppose Islam raise allegations, yet their allegations carry no weight and are raised simply for the sake of levelling allegations. Indeed, the Holy Qur’an possesses within it a response to all such allegations, however those who raise allegations against the Holy Qur’an fail to realise that before the advent of Islam, there was not a single religious scripture which comprehensively spoke about women and their rights as Islam has done.

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.

Once, a journalist asked me, “Do you not think that the teachings of Islam should be changed, just like Christianity is changing according to modern times?” I responded by saying “No.” Why was this my response? It is because the Holy Qur’an has assigned responsibilities that accord with human nature. When this is the case, then no change is required. Change is only required when there are shortcomings, or if the rights of others are being usurped. The rights of men and women, children and parents, labourers and proprietors, employees and employers, normal citizens and governments have all been specified with justice. When this is the case, and these rights are implemented under a true Islamic government, examples of which we have seen in the past, then to bring about changes in the teachings of Islam simply for the sake of following modern schools of thought which dictate that change must be brought about in religion, would be nothing short of sheer foolishness. Indeed, if all of these rights are not being fulfilled, then efforts must be made to ensure their fulfilment and people should be encouraged to adhere to these teachings. However, to simply say that these teachings should change is not the solution. Even if changes were made, the governments, leaders, or people who already neglect the fulfilment of these rights, would still not fulfil them. Thus, the focus must be on ensuring that these rights are actually being fulfilled and put into practice.

When I turn to my religious book, the Holy Qur’an, I find it to be the Word of God, Who is the Knower of the unseen and the seen. He has complete knowledge of the past, the present and what will happen in the future. Thus, when this is the God we believe in, and we believe in a book that encompasses everything, why should I feel that Islam’s commandments need to be changed? If religion comes from God, and I believe in His existence, and if I am convinced that this religion has been established by God, then I see no reason to turn away from God simply to follow the decrees made by people.

Yesterday, many members of the press were here at the time of the Friday prayer, seeing as it was the first day [of Jalsa]. The Press Secretary informed me after the Friday prayer, that among the members of the press who were present, they were quite concerned about Channel 4. The journalist was a lady, who said, “Your views are sound, however your practice of segregation between men and women by making them sit separately makes you seem like extremists as well, since you are usurping the rights of women”. I told him [the Press Secretary], that he had nothing to worry about; firstly, he should inform her that the men would not respond to her, rather she should inquire about this from the women. I was very pleased to learn that one of our Lajna representatives who is quite experienced in giving interviews to the press, responded in an excellent manner. Whether such people accept our response or not, they cannot refute it. Secondly, I said that even if she were to publish any negative comments or views about us in this regard, she is free to do so, because we are not concerned with pleasing worldly people, the press or any channel. Rather, our purpose it to please Allah the Almighty, and we must strive to achieve this by fulfilling His commandments. I generally respond to such matters by explaining that the purpose of religion is for us to follow it. Religion paves the path for us to be able to meet our Creator. Its purpose is not to follow people, nor is it to please them.

In fact, Allah the Almighty sends His prophets only when corruption manifests on the Earth. The Holy Qur’an states, that the Holy Prophet (sa) was sent at a time when corruption and disorder were rampant in the world. Then, in this age, the Promised Messiah (as) was commissioned in subservience to the Holy Prophet (sa), at a time when there was disorder in every part of the world. Today, we find ourselves facing the same corruption which, a hundred years ago, the Promised Messiah (as) was commissioned to eradicate in light of the Holy Qur’an’s teachings. In fact, the solution today is the same as that presented in the Holy Qur’an 1400 years ago, which has been elucidated for us in this age by the Promised Messiah (as).

Worldly people who have strayed from religion and are now wreaking havoc in the world by raising allegations against religion, will eventually have to face the consequences of their actions. Similarly, those who create disorder in the name of religion will be held accountable for their actions, even if they are Muslims.

Worldly people object to the segregation of men and women according to their own understanding, and this in fact is their main allegation against us. Yet, it was only a few decades ago that these same people deprived women of all their rights. Then, over time, as women began advocating for their rights, this campaign to give women their due rights, on account of being a human effort, caused them to adopt the opposite extreme. In the name of granting them rights and showing sympathy to them, women have been exposed before the world to such a degree that they are no longer honoured; under the guise of showing sympathy and giving freedom, the honour of women has been utterly destroyed. The women of Europe have yet to realise, that their true identity and true sense of security comes about when they are among other women, when they work in an organisation for women, and they are able to freely operate. About two years ago, an English guest who was a good writer, came here [to the Jalsa]. She spent the entire day with the women, and by the evening, she said, “At first, I found it strange to be among only women. However, after spending the day here, I realised that I was more free and I felt much safer.”

Hence, when women are afforded their rights whilst keeping their honour intact, then even when a non-Muslim woman raised in the West, sees this, she has to accept that Islam establishes the rights of women, and that sitting separately does not take away from the freedoms of women. Yesterday, when the Channel 4 reporter tweeted about the exhibition or other aspects, saying that women were not allowed to go there, that same lady replied to her, and I am very pleased that many Ahmadi girls also responded to her, informing her that she was wrong. Thus, whatever is happening these days in the West and so-called developed nations under the pretext of women’s freedom, is in fact a reaction to man-made laws. Since women are aware, or realise the fact that they need men in order to obtain their freedoms, and unbeknownst to them, the innate weaknesses of women are becoming apparent, women have sought the help of men for the sake of securing their freedoms. However, when men tried assisting women in obtaining their freedoms, they took advantage of the nature of women and sought to appease their own desires by attempting to have women shed their clothes under the guise of attaining freedom.

Highlighting this very point, an English writer from here wrote an article, in which she said that men who actively participate in campaigns to have women uncover themselves and wear minimal clothing, all in the name of freedom, are actually doing so in order to fulfil their own desires of seeing women unclothed. These are the sentiments of learned women from here [in the West].

Those who claim to be advanced have seen only a single dimension to the injustices committed against women in the name of religion and tradition. Women have only seen one aspect of their subjugation in the name of Christianity, religion and traditions. These matters are not confined to the third world alone, rather only some decades ago, the same things were occurring in these [Western] countries as well. Then, women employed every possible strategy in order to bring an end to these injustices and obtain their freedoms. The other tragedy was that Muslims took their traditions, which did not stem from Islam but from their own nationalities, and disguised them as being a part of their faith. In doing so, they rendered women completely worthless. Once, while elaborating on this very point, the Promised Messiah (as) stated that such people consider women as worthless and contemptable, and perpetrate injustices against them in the name of religion. They consider them to be worth no more than the shoes on their feet, whereas in actuality, Islam establishes the rights of women.[1]

The Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa) relate, that they would not raise their voices with their wives, for fear of being reported to the Holy Prophet (sa). These were the rights established by the Holy Prophet (sa). As time passed, 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.

Once, while waiting at the train station, the Promised Messiah (as) was walking back and forth on the platform alongside Hazrat Amma Jaan (ra). Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib (ra), who was a great scholar, and the First Caliph (ra) were there. Whether he was influenced by the predominant views of scholars in India, or because of his own disposition, Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib (ra) said to Hazrat Maulana Hakim Nooruddin Sahib (ra), “What will people say when they see the Promised Messiah (as) walking on the platform alongside Hazrat Amma Jaan (ra)? You should go to the Promised Messiah (as) and stop him.” The First Caliph replied, “I cannot say this. If this thought has occurred to you, then you should be the one to approach him. I see nothing wrong with it.” Hence, Hazrat Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib (ra) went to the Promised Messiah (as) and said, “What will people say when they see you walking [alongside your wife]?” The Promised Messiah (as) replied, “What can they say? That Mirza Ghulam Ahmad was walking on the platform alongside his wife? Let them say so, it makes no difference.” Maulvi Abdul Karim Sahib (ra) became very silent, and dejectedly returned. The First Caliph (ra) smiled and said to him, “What happened? Did you receive an answer? Are you satisfied now?”[2]

Despite the fact that people had accepted the Promised Messiah (as) and had become enlightened, there was a lingering effect of prior traditions. The effect was such, that they thought it was wrong for a husband and wife to walk together in a public setting. We, as Ahmadis, are extremely fortunate, that in light of Qur’anic teachings, the Promised Messiah (as) has clearly elucidated for us the rights of all men and women. If the women of our community experience any sort of inferiority complex, then they should rid themselves of it entirely. Instead, where the media seeks every opportunity to denigrate Islam, these women should enlighten them regarding the true teachings of Islam. They should explain to them that they raise these allegations, however Islam says that men and women have equal rights; yet on the other hand their own religion, or any other religion for that matter, has not established such rights. As I have stated, women in the West used to be treated like slaves. A woman had to remain silent even if her husband was cruel to her, and she had to continue to endure such cruel treatment. However, 1400 years ago, Islam declared that if a woman sought separation from her husband on account of his cruel treatment, then she had the right to do so. In fact, women were given the right of separation even if they simply developed an aversion to their husbands and did not wish to remain with them any longer. In such instances, where women wish to exercise this right of theirs and seek separation for no apparent reason, then they must forfeit the rights [i.e. dowry] that are owed to them. This indeed is very reasonable.

Then, as I have stated, women were given the right of having sole ownership of their earnings, while the husband has his own earnings. At the same time, men have been instructed that it is their responsibility to take care of the household expenses and provide for their wives and children, and that they should not look to the wealth of their wives. Then, there are many women who do not have their own income, yet they desire to spend in the way of their faith and give alms. One such woman went to the Holy Prophet (sa) and said, “My husband forbids me from giving alms, what should I do? Is it permissible for me to give alms in secret?” The Holy Prophet (sa) replied, “Yes you may. In fact, you can even do so by secretly taking some amount from his income and use it to give alms.”[3]

These are the rights afforded to women in such matters.

If a husband and wife separate after having children together, they are instructed that since both a mother and father love their children, neither the father or mother should be caused grief on account of their children. In this way, the rights of both men and women have been established. Hence, both women and men – who also become stubborn at times – should be mindful, that under such difficult circumstances, the woman should not cause the father pain, nor should the man cause the mother pain on account of the children. Fathers, who take custody of their children and do not allow them to see their mother, and mothers, who harbour enmity towards their former husbands and do not allow their children to meet their father, are both wrong and should rectify their ways. That is why Allah the Almighty says that when it comes to doing good deeds, seeking His pleasure should be at the forefront.

Similarly, Islam grants women the right to inheritance from their parents, husbands, and children. Thus, Islam has afforded women all types of rights. Allah the Almighty has granted women their rights in consideration of human nature. These rights have been established while being mindful of the needs of both women and men, and according to the tenets of justice. How can we compare these [divinely decreed] rights to those rights which have been created by man?

It is clear that the various freedoms and rights which are being sought today – all in the name of women’s rights – are either for ostentation, revenge, or an expression of anger. There will come a time when these people will realise for themselves, that according to the nature instilled within women and men by Allah the Almighty, similar rights have been established where there are similarities [between men and women]. In certain areas where the nature of women is weaker and they require more protection, they have been granted that protection. Furthermore, men have been held responsible for the duties which they have been assigned. A time will come when people who consider themselves to be progressive will begin to see shortcomings in their laws of freedom, and when this happens, they will begin searching for a better solution to remove these shortcomings. At that time, the only better solution they will be able to find is Islam.

Hence, we do not need to fall into any sort of inferiority complex. Only a short while ago, the former British Prime Minister granted women the right to enroll in the army for active duty. Some experienced Generals have started expressing their views on the matter, although we will learn more with the passage of time based on the results that come forth. In their view, this will result in the army becoming weaker, and instead of focusing on the battle, male soldiers will be more focused on protecting the female soldiers, and thus will not be able to concentrate on the battle at hand. This, in fact, is a reality.

Islam teaches that the primary responsibility of a woman is to raise the children at home, and when the men have gone out to work, or have gone out to defend the faith against those who would seek to eradicate it, then women will be equally rewarded for staying at home and raising their children in the right manner, bringing them up as valuable members of the nation.

Hence, if Islam has advised women not to do something, it does not deprive them of its rewards. Rather, women have been granted an equal reward for doing something else, which cannot be done by men.

Islam does not deem women to be inferior or weak. The hardships which are endured by women during a child’s birth and upbringing cannot even be comprehended by men, nor could they ever bear their burden. In this way, the faculties of women are so strong that men cannot even compare. It was in consideration of the importance of a woman’s work that when a questioner came to the Holy Prophet (sa), he replied to him by saying thrice “your mother is the most deserving of your kind treatment.” It was only when he answered the fourth time that he mentioned the father.[4]

The Holy Prophet (sa) said, “Paradise lies under the feet of mothers” because it is they who raise good, active and contributing members of society by ensuring their excellent and virtuous upbringing.[5]

Thus, as I have stated, if we tell the world and ingrain within the minds of our children, that Islam protects the rights of women and honours them, then we will be the ones to prove to the world that only through Islam can the true rights of women be established. We will also be able to ingrain this within our children. We must explain to the boys that the Shari’ah [Islamic law] has entrusted them with the task of upholding the rights of women. If every mother were to raise her sons in this way, then many domestic issues would be resolved on their own. If this thought is ingrained within boys, that in the Shari’ah, Allah the Almighty has made men responsible for upholding the rights of women, and not doing so is a sin, then the future generations of men will become the flag bearers for the rights of not only Muslim women, but all women. Instead of giving precedence to what worldly people have to say, and instead of trying to establish the rights of women in the same manner as worldly people, they will strive to establish these rights according to the teachings of Islam. Hence, if mothers begin this training from their homes, then boys will begin fighting for the rights of women right then and there. Then, rather than turning to worldly organisations in order to obtain their rights, our girls will become guardians of their rights established by Islam. If girls are taught about the rights that Islam affords to them, and then this same message is passed on to future generations, a beautiful society will come about wherein the rights of women are upheld.

Therefore, if the Ahmadi women and Ahmadi girls of today realise how important this is, and take up this responsibility, then the future generations, irrespective of their nationality, will become the flag bearers of women’s rights. The world will look to you for guidance on how to establish these rights. You will become those who free women of every nation from the shackles of enslavement and grant them their rights. I also say to the men, that they must help women in this cause.

Today, the forces that oppose religion seek to turn people away from religion in the name of human rights. This is a great challenge for us, for it is under the same banner of human rights that we must bring people close to religion. The world says that religion does not grant rights; we must inform them that religion does in fact establish rights, and it is because of these very rights that we are calling them towards religion. In order to achieve this, our women must play a pivotal role, and we must help them in this cause.

May Allah the Almighty enable all women to fulfil their responsibilities and act upon the true teachings of Islam, while helping their children to do the same. May they give precedence to the pleasure of Allah the Almighty, so that the world may see the true teachings of Islam and the true representation of women’s rights. May Allah the Almighty enable every Ahmadi woman to do so.

Now, please join me in silent prayer.’


[1] Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfuzat Vol. 5 (UK: Islam International Publications Ltd., 1984), 417-418.

[2] Al-Fazl International – 18 October 1952, p. 3, Vol. 40/6, no. 235.

[3] Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Nafaqat, Bab iza lam Yanfiq al-Rajul, fa li al-Mar’ati an Ta’khuza bighairi Ilmihi, Hadith #5364

[4] Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Adab, Bab man Ahaqq al-Nas… Hadith #5971

[5] Sunan Nisai, Kitab al-Jihad, Bab al-Rukhsatu fi al-Takhalluf liman lahu Walidah, Hadith #3104