Image by Sumaiya Patel

With Islam in the limelight of the media, Muslim women are targeted as being oppressed but our true voices are never heard, and neither is the teaching of Islam regarding women ever learnt properly before making harsh judgements. So, I decided to interview two teachers who have spent their time in the learning and teaching of Islamic studies: Abdul Mateen, the headteacher of Quwwat Ul-Islam Mosque based in East London and Aamenah Patel who graduated from Jamea Uloomil Quran in Leicester, and is currently a BA student in Markfield Institute of Higher Education in Islamic Studies.

Abdul Mateen and Aamenah Patel say: “men and women worship our creator” to which I agree.

With so many controversies present around us, about Islam, women are targeted as being vulnerable and victims of inequality. Is that really the case?

“They have different rights and responsibilities,” says Abdul Mateen, “but in some conditions, men are considered as having more power and in the same way, women can also be considered as having more power.”

Yes, in the traditional sense a woman can have more power in the domestic sphere, while a man may have more power in external affairs. However, that does not mean that a woman is bound to her domestic life and is never allowed a step outside her house. The roles can be swapped. It is the outcome that makes us equal, both husband and wife contribute equally to keep a home harmonious and peaceful. My father and brothers help around with the housework, whilst I do my university assignments. There is no harm, no restriction and there is no obligation to stick to one role. Gender roles are man-made and do not stem from Islam.

I directly ask Abdul Mateen whether Islam is patriarchal, and he replies, “Society at large is patriarchal, irrespective of religion.”

When I ask Aamenah the same question, she answers with a simple, “No, men and women are considered equal.”

Fascinatingly enough, Abdul Mateen did further point out that, “Islam is not patriarchal but it also does not advocate complete equality between the sexes. In Islam, there is a distinction between the nature of a man and a woman.”

However, society and culture are patriarchal. The subjection of women to feed the male gaze and the pressure of family honour does not emerge from Islam; it comes from society. Islam, however, provides protection for women. Yes, a man is involved deeply in his female relatives’ affairs, but we are assured that through this we receive extra protection. I have used the term ‘extra’ to portray that women are capable of protecting themselves such as when travelling more than 48 miles. Beyond 48 miles is far away from your trusted ones, so it’ll be beneficial to have a man accompany you for that extra assurance.

Aamenah says that it’s purely for “safety and protection.”

Women have a choice. The choice is to follow the religion’s law and bear the consequence or get rewarded. It’s like living under the rule of any country; follow its law and you’re safe, don’t follow it and you’re in jail.

Throughout this blog, I have emphasised that women are not inferior to men in any way but have a distinction in the roles they are to take according to Islam. As a closing reminder, Aamenah says,”Islam values women, and recognises the pivotal roles women play in society.”

Sumaiya Patel

Sumaiya Patel

Sumaiya is a Muslim-Indian who lives in London with the aspiration to tackle stereotypes of minorities within the UK through her writing. She currently writes for her own blog, addressing the issues of Islamophobia, misconceptions of Islam, racism and other issues of discrimination. Besides writing for her own blog, she is very passionate about her Korean, while she uses most of her free time to master the Arabic language. Sumaiya is pursuing a career to teach English at secondary and above level, aiming to empower the minds of young people through reading and writing.