Introduction to Islam


Outline of Presentation:

  1. Purpose and limitations of this presentation
  2. The ideological foundation of Islam
  3. Pillars of faith (fundamental articles of faith)
  4. Pillars of Worship (application of faith)
  5. Divine law of Islam (Sharia)
  6. Rights of women in Islam

    Purpose and limitations of this presentation:

    The purpose of this presentation is to brief the average reader with the very basic teachings of Islam. It is impossible to present the breadth or depth of Islam in such a short period of time. It is like trying to squeeze a big elephant into a one-cubic-inch-box.


    In Islamic presentations, the speaker must cite articles from Quran and Sunnah to prove that what he says is not his own ideas. Thus, concepts of Islam in this presentation will be accompanied by citing verses from the holly Quran. One way to access translations of the holly Quran for further information is through the internet using (, or


    The ideological foundation of Islam:


    Concept of God in Islam:

    It is a known fact that every language has one or more terms that are used in reference to God and sometimes to lesser deities. This is not the case with Allah. Allah is the personal name of the One true God. Nothing else can be called Allah. The term has no plural or gender. This shows its uniqueness when compared with the word God which can be made plural, gods or feminine, goddess. It is interesting to notice that Allah is the personal name of God in Aramaic, the language of Jesus and a sister language of Arabic.


    The One true God is a reflection of the unique concept that Islam associates with Allah. To a Muslim, Allah is the Almighty, Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Who is similar to nothing and nothing is comparable to Him. The Prophet Mohammed was asked by his contemporaries about Allah; the answer came directly from Allah Himself in the form of a short chapter of the Quran, which is considered the essence of the unity of God, or monotheism. This is chapter 112 which reads:


    In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

    Say (O Muhammad) He is Allah the One God, the Everlasting Refuge, who has not begotten, nor has been begotten, and equal to Him is not anyone.


    Allah has many attributes, among them are mercy and justice. In one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) we are said that "Allah is more loving and kinder than a mother to her dear child." But Allah is also Just. Hence evildoers and sinners must have their share of punishment. Actually Allah's attribute of Mercy has full manifestation in His attribute of Justice. People suffering throughout their lives for His sake and people oppressing and exploiting other people all their life should not receive similar treatment from their Lord. Expecting similar treatment for them will amount to negating the very belief in the accountability of man in the Hereafter and thereby negating all the incentives for a moral and virtuous life in this world. The following Quranic verses are very clear and straightforward in this respect:


    Verily, for the Righteous are gardens of Delight, in the Presence of their Lord. Shall We then treat the people of Faith like the people of Sin? What is the matter with you? What kind of judges are you? (68:34-36).


    Islam rejects characterizing God in any human form or depicting Him (idolatry) as favoring certain individuals or nations on the basis of wealth, power or race. He created the human beings as equals. They may distinguish themselves and get His favor through virtue and piety only. Allah said in the Quran (49:13)


    O mankind! We created you from a single pair of male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know and interact with each other, not that you may despise each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of ALLAH is the most righteous of you. And ALLAH has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things.


    The concept that Allah rested in the seventh day of creation, that Allah wrestled with one of His soldiers, that Allah is an envious plotter against mankind, or that Allah is incarnate in any human being are considered blasphemy from the Islamic point of view.


    The unique usage of Allah as a personal name of God is a reflection of Islam's emphasis on the purity of the belief in God, which is the essence of the message of all God's messengers (Quran 2:128-140, 3:78-85, 17:42-44, 31:22, 42:13). Because of this, Islam considers associating any deity or personality with Allah as a deadly sin which Allah will never forgive, despite the fact He may forgive any other sin (Quran 4:48, 4:116, 5:72)


    The Creator must be of a different nature from the things created because if he is of the same nature as they are, he will be temporal and will therefore need a maker. It follows that nothing is like Him. If the maker is not temporal, then he must be eternal. But if he is eternal, he cannot be caused, and if nothing caused him to come into existence, nothing outside him causes him to continue to exist, which means that he must be self-sufficient. And if he does not depend on anything for the continuance of his own existence, then this existence can have no end. The Creator is therefore eternal and everlasting: 'He is the First and the Last' (Quran 2:255, 57:3)


    He is Self-sufficient or Self-subsistent. The Creator does not create only in the sense of bringing things into being, He also preserves them and takes them out of existence and is the ultimate cause of whatever happens to them. (Quran 7:158, 9:116, 10:56, 23:80, 40:68, 44:8, 55:26, 57:2)


    Allah is the Creator of everything. He is the guardian over everything. To Him belong the keys of the heavens and the earth. (39:62, 63)


    No Creature is there crawling on the earth, but its provision rests on Allah. the time and place of its definite abode and its temporary deposit: all is in a clear record (11:6)



    Who is the Muslim:

    The Muslim, is the one who believes in Allah and surrender himself to Allah. A Muslim must acknowledges the fact that it is Allah alone who deserves to be worshipped, and thus abstains from worshipping any other thing or being (2:136).


    Having achieved this faith and knowledge of Allah, it causes certain mental states which result in certain actions. Prophet Mohammed said "Faith is that which resides firmly in the heart and which is proved by deeds". This concept is emphasized in many ways in the Quran (for example 40:40).


    Islam is not just for talking or identity, Islam is not only a faith in the heart, but Islam is for living. The whole life should be lived in Islam, which means the obedience and submission to Allah. A Muslim is a person who consciously and willingly commits himself to Allah and wants to live his life according to the revelation of Allah (Quran 6:162).


    When the civilized people abide by the laws of their countries, they are considered sound citizens and honest members of their respective societies. No responsible person would say that such people lose their freedom by their obedience to the law. No rational being would think or believe for a moment that such a law-abiding people are fatalists and helpless. Similarly, the person who submits to the will of Allah, which is a good will, and obeys the law of Allah, which is the best law, is a sound and honest person. He is gaining protection of his own rights, showing genuine respect for the right of others, and enjoying a high degree of responsible, creative freedom. Submission to the good will of Allah, therefore, does not take away individual freedom. On the contrary, it frees the mind from superstitions and fills it with truth. It frees the soul from sin and wrong and quickens it with goodness and purity. It frees the self from vanity and greed, from envy and tension, from fear and insecurity. It frees man from subjugation to false deities and low desires, and unfolds before him the beautiful horizons of goodness and excellence.


    Some outsiders call Muslims Mohammedans and call Islam Mohammedism. The Muslims both reject and protest the use of these words because they lead to the following serwrong implicat:

  8. Mohammed is the founder of Islam and Islam is just another “ism”, just like Marxism
  9. Mohammedans (Muslims) worship Mohammed


Prophet Mohammed was just a man and messenger of God, and Allah clearly emphasized this in the Quran (18:110). Further more, Prophet Mohammed has made some wrong decisions and actions, and Allah castigated and corrected him in the Quran, for example Giving more attention to some ellites than a blind man (80:1-10), trying to please his wife rather than pleasing Allah (66:1), and fearing people when making decisions (33:1,73). These particular evidences from Quran prove that Prophet Mohamed did not hide any part of the Quran. If he would to hide any, he would have hidden the parts in which he was castigated by Allah.


In addition, Prophet Mohammed called on people to worship and praise Allah, not to worship and praise himself (2:21, 18:110).


Pillars of faith (Fundamental articles of faith):


1. Believe in Allah:

The first pillar of faith is believes in Allah, the One God, Supreme and Eternal, Infinite and Mighty, Merciful and Compassionate, Creator and Provider.


This belief, in order to be effective, requires complete trust and

hope in Allah, submission to His Will and reliance on His aid. It secures man's dignity and saves him from fear and despair, from guilt and confusion. The reader is invited to see the concept of God (Allah) introduced above.


2. Believe in the messengers of Allah:

The second pillar of faith is to believes in all the messengers of Allah without any discrimination among them. Every known nation had a Warner or messenger from God. These messengers were great teachers of the good and true champions of the right. They were chosen by God to teach mankind and deliver His Divine message. They were sent at different times of history and every known nation had one messenger or more. During certain periods two or more messenger were sent by God at the same time to the same nation. The Holy Quran mentions the names of twenty five of them, and the Muslim believes in them all and accepts them as authorized messengers of God. They were, with the exception of Muhammad, known as "national" or local messengers. But their message, their religion, was basically the same and was called ISLAM, because it came from One and the Same Source, namely, Allah, to serve one and the same purpose, and that is to guide humanity to the Straight Path of God.


All the messengers with no exception whatsoever were mortals, human beings, endowed with Divine revelation and appointed by God to perform certain tasks. Among them Muhammad stands as the last Messenger and the crowning glory of the foundation of prophethood.


Names of some of the great messengers like Noah and Abraham, Ishmael and Moses, Jesus and Mohammed may the peace and blessings of God be upon them all. The Quran (2:136, 3: 8; 4: 163-165; 6: 84-87) commands the Muslims thus:

We believe in God, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the Tribes; and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to all prophets from their Lord. We make no discrimination between one and another of them, and we bow to God.


3. Believe in the books (revelations) of Allah:

The Muslim believes, as a result of article two, in all the scriptures and revelations of Allah. They were the guiding lights, which the messengers received to show their respective peoples the Right Path of God. In the Quran a special reference is made to the books of Abraham, Moses, David ad Jesus. But long before the revelation of the Quran to Mohammed. Some of those books and revelations had been lost or corrupted, others forgotten, neglected, or concealed. The only authentic and complete book of God in existence today is the Quran.


In principle, the Muslim believes in the previous books and revelations. But where are their complete and original versions? They could be still at the bottom of the Dead Sea, and there may be more Scrolls to be discovered. Or perhaps more information about them will become available when the Christian and Jewish archaeologists reveal to the public the complete original findings of their continued excavations in the Holy Land. For the Muslim, there is no problem of that kind. The Quran is in his hand complete and authentic. Nothing of it is missing and no more of it is expected. Its authenticity is beyond doubt, and no serious scholar or thinker has ventured to question its genuineness. The Quran was made so by God Who revealed it and made it incumbent upon Himself to protect it against interpolation and corruption of all kinds. Thus it is given to the Muslims as the standard or criterion by which all the other books are judged. So whatever agrees with the Quran is accepted as Divine truth, and whatever differs from the Quran is either rejected or suspended. Allah says: 'Verily we have, without doubt, sent down the Quran; and We will assuredly guard it (15:9; cf. 2:75-79; 5: 13-14, 41, 45, 47; 6:91; 41: 43).


4. Believe in the angles of God:

The true Muslim believes in the angles of Allah. They are purely spiritual and require no food or drink or sleep. They have no physical desires of any kind nor material needs. They spend their days and nights in the service of Allah. There are many of them, and each one is charged with a certain duty.


If we cannot see the angels with out naked eyes, it does not necessarily deny their actual existence. There are many things in the world that are invisible to the eye or inaccessible to the senses, and yet we do believe in their existence. We have never seen things like gas and ether with our naked eyes, we can not smell, touch, taste or hear them, yet we do acknowledge their existence. Belief in the angels originates from the Islamic principle that knowledge and truth are not entirely confined to the sensory knowledge or sensory perception alone (l6:49-50; 21:19-20).


5. Believe in the day of Judgment:

The true Muslim believes in the Last Day of Judgement. This world will come to an end some day, and the dead will rise to stand for their final and fair trial. Everything we do in this world, every intention we have, every move we make, every thought we entertain, and every word we say, all are counted and kept in accurate records. On the Day of judgement they will be brought up. People with good records will be generously rewarded and warmly welcomed to the Heaven of God, and those with bad records will be punished and cast into Hell. The real nature of Heaven and Hell and the exact description of them are known to God only. There are descriptions of Heaven and Hell in the Quran and the Traditions (Sunnah) of Prophet Mohammed but they should not be taken literally. In other words, the only similarity is in names only, but the nature of things are completely different. In Heaven, said Prophet Mohammed, there are things which no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no mind has ever conceived. However, the Muslim believes that there definitely will be compensation and reward for the good deeds, and punishment for the evil ones. That is the Day of Justice and final settlement of all accounts.


If some people think that they can get away with their wrong doings, just as they sometimes escape the penalty of the mundane laws, they are wrong; they will not be able to do so on the Day of Judgement. The will be caught right on the spot defenseless, without any lawyer or counsel to stand in their behalf. All their deeds are visible to God and counted by His agents. Also, if some pious people do good deeds to please God and seem to get no appreciation or acknowledgement in this temporary world, they will eventually receive full compensation and be widely acknowledged on That Day. Absolute Justice will be done to all.


Belief in the Day of Judgement is the final relieving answer to many complicated problems of our world. There are people who commit sins, neglect God and indulge in immoral activities, yet they seem to be "superficially" successful in business and prosperous in life. And there are virtuous and God-minded people, yet they seem to be getting lesrewards for their sincere effand more suffering in the present world. This is puzzling and incompatible with the Justice of God. If the guilty people can escape the mundane law unharmed and, in addition, be more prosperous, what is, then, left for the virtuous people? What will promote the cause of morality and goodness? There must be some way to reward goodness and arrest evil. If this is not done here on this earth-and we know that it is not done regularly or immediately-it has to be done some day, and that is the Day of Judgement. This is not to condone injustice or tolerate mischief in this world. It is not to sedate the deprived or comfort their exploiters. Rather, it is to warn the deviants from the Right Path and remind them that the Justice of God shall run its full course sooner or later.


6. Believe in the power of Allah to plan and execute his plans:

The true Muslim believes in the timeless knowledge of God and in His power to plan and execute His plans. God is not indifferent to this world nor is He neutral to it. His knowledge and power are in action at all times to keep order in his vast domain and maintain full command over his creation. He is Wise and Loving, and whatever he does must have a good motive and a meaningful purpose. If this is established in our minds, we should accept with good faith all that he does, although we may fail to understand it fully, or even think it is bad. We should have strong faith in him and accept whatever he does because our knowledge is limited and our thinking is based on individual or personal considerations, whereas His knowledge is limitless and he plans on a universal basis.


This doe not in any way make man fatalist or helpless. It simply draws the demarcation line between what is God's concern and what is man's responsibility. Because we are by nature finite and limited, we have a finite and limited degree of power and freedom. We cannot do everything, and he graciously holds us responsible only for the things we do. The things which we cannot do, or things which he himself does, are not in the realm of our responsibility. He is just and has given us limited power to match our finite nature and limited responsibility. On the other hand, the timeless knowledge and power of God to execute his plans do not prevent us from making our own plans in our own limited sphere of power. On the contrary, He exhorts us to think, to plan and to make sound choices, but if things do not happen the way we wanted or planned them, we should not lose faith or surrender ourselves to mental strains and shattering worries. We should try again and again, and if the results are not satisfactory, then we know that we have tried our best and cannot be held responsible for the results, because what is beyond our capacity and responsibility is the affair of Allah alone. The Muslims believe that the timeless knowledge of God anticipates events, and that events take place according to the exact Knowledge of God (Quran, 18:29; 41:46; 53:33-62; 54:49; 65:3; 76:30-31).


In case of calamities, this pillar of faith protects believers from saying things like life is not fair or god is not fair. In addition, believers do not ask themselves meaningless questions such as, why am I a male, why I am not a female, why I am poor, why I am not rich, why am I white, why I am not black…etc. All these things are decreed by Allah and man has no choice in and does not make him better or worse than other people. What makes him better or worse than other people are his actions and deeds.


Pillars of Worship (application of faith):

Faith without action and practice is a dead end, as far as Islam is concerned. When faith is out of practice or out of use, it quickly loses its liveliness and motivating power. The only way to enliven Faith and make it serve its purpose is practice. The person who confesses faith but does not practice it is a self-deceiving person, and in fact has no faith, in which case he is no more than a helpless straying wanderer. It is necessary for a true religion to have a correspondence between true religion and daily life. Because of that, Islam does not attend to the doctrine of six days for me or the world and one day for the Lord". Rather, Islam has a regular exercise of faith.


1. To testify that there is no deity but Allah and that Mohammed is his messenger:

This testimony is the first and main pillar of Islam. It coverts the faith which resides in the heart of the believer into words that can be heard by others. Declaring this testimony is the first thing a non-Muslim should do to embrace Islam. Any person who makes this testimony without actually believing in it is considered hypocrite.


2. To perform five times daily prayers at certain times:

Prayer constitutes one pillar of Islam and is considered the foundation of the religion. Any Muslim who fails to observe his prayers and has no reasonable excuse is committing a grave offense and a heinous sin. This offense is so grave because it is not only against God, which is bad enough, but is also against the very nature of man. It is an instinct of man to be inclined to adore the great beings, and to aspire to lofty goals. The greatest being and the loftiest goal of all is God. The best way to cultivate in man a sound personality and actualize his aspirations in a mature course of development is the Islamic Prayer. To neglect prayer is to oppress the good qualities in human nature and unjustifiably deny it the right to adore and love, the right to aspire and ascend, the right to

excel in goodness and achieve noble aims. Such oppression and denial constitute a very serious and destructive offense. Her lies the significance and vitality of prayer in the life of man.


It should always be borne in mind that God does not need man's prayer, because he is free of all needs. He is only interested in our prosperity and well-being in every sense. When He emphasizes the necessity of prayer and charges us with any duty, He means to help us; because whatever good we do is for our own benefit, and whatever offence we commit is against our own souls. Here too, man is the center of gravity, and his common interest is the main concern. The benefit which man can derive from the Islamic prayer is immeasurable, and the blessing of prayer is beyond imagination. This is not just a "theory" or conventional assumption; it is a fascinating fact and a spiritual experience. Here is an explanation of the effectiveness of the Islamic prayer:-


When we analyze the Islamic prayer and study its unique nature, it will reveal to us that it is not merely a physical motion or a void recital of the Holy Book. It is a matchless and unprecedented formula of intellectual meditation and spiritual devotion, of moral elevation and physical exercise, all combined. It is an exclusively Islamic experience where every muscle of the body joins the soul and the mind in the worship and glory of God. It is difficult for anyone to impart in words the full meaning of the Islamic prayer, yet it can be said that it is:


3. Fasting thMonth of Ramadan:

Another unique and spiritual characteristic of Islam is the prescribed institution of fasting. Literally defined, fasting means to abstain ''completely" from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. But if we restrict the meaning of the Islamic Fasting to this literal sense, we would be sadly mistaken.


When Islam introduced this matchless institution, it planted an ever-growing tree of infinite virtue and invaluable products. Here is an explanation of the spiritual meaning of the Islamic Fasting:


4. The Alms (Obligatory Charity):

Another exceptionally remarkable institution and major pillar of Islam is the obligatory charity (called Zakah in Arabic). To the Quranic word Zakah and the meaning it conveys, there is no equivalent in any other language as far as we know. It is not just a form of charity or alms giving or taxes or tithes. Nor is it simply an expression of kindness it is all of these combined and much more. It is not merely a deduction of a certain percentage from one's property, but an abundant enrichment and spiritual investment. It is not simply a voluntary contribution to someone or some cause, nor a government tax that a shrewd clever person can get away with. Rather, it is a duty enjoined by God and undertaken by Muslims in the interest of society as a whole. The Quranic word Zakah not only includes charity, alms, tithe, kindness, official tax, voluntary contributions, etc., but it also combines with all these God-mindedness and spiritual as well as moral motives. That is why there can be no equivalent to the word Zakah because of the supreme originality of the Quran, the Divine Book of God.


The literal and simple meaning of Zakah is purity. The technical meaning of the word designates the annual amount in kind or coin which a Muslim with means must distribute among the rightful beneficiaries. But the religious and spiritual significance of Zakah is much deeper and more lively. So is its humanitarian and sociopolitical

value. Here is an explanation of the far-reaching effects of Zakah:


5. The Pilgrimage:


The final pillar and one of the finest institutions of Islam is the pilgrimage to Mecca. The performance of the pilgrimage is obligatory, at least once lifetime, upon every Muslim, male or female, who is mentally, financially and physically fit. The Muslim who is of responsible age, in fairly good health, and is financially capable and secure must make the pilgrimage at least once in his or her lifetime. The financial security here means that he should have enough to cover his own expenses and those of his dependents, and to pay his debts, until he completes the course of pilgrimage.


The course of pilgrimage is another unique characteristic of Islam. It is enjoined by God to serve many purposes among which are the following:


In the performance of pilgrimage it can easily be observed that it is a course of spiritual enrichment and moral rearmament, a course of intensified devotion and disciplinary experience, a course of humanitarian interests and inspiring knowledge, all put together in one single institution of Islam.


It should also be pointed out that the entire course of devotion is to God alone. The Muslims go to Mecca in glory of God, not to kiss a stone or worship a man or a semi-divinity. Kissing or touching the Black Stone the Kabah is an optional action, not an obligation or a prescription. Those who kiss the Black Stone or touch it do not do it because they have faith in the Stone or attribute any superstitious qualities to it. Their Faith is in God only. Thy kiss or touch or point to the Stone only as a token of respect or a symbol of love for Prophet Muhammad, who laid the Stone at the foundation of the Kabah when it was reconstructed.


Concept of Worship in Islam:

Worship is an all-inclusive term for that Allah loves of external and internal sayings and actions of a person. In other words, worship is every thing one says or does for the pleasure of Allah. This includes rituals, social activities, and personal contributions to the welfare of one's fellow human beings.


Divine law of Islam (Sharia):

Because Islam grants complete recognition of human nature as it is, and takes deep interest in the spiritual a well as the material well being of man, it does not consider religion a personal affair or a separate entity from the current general course of life. In other words, religion has no value unless its teachings have effective imprints on the personal and public course of life. On the other hand, life is meaningless, if it is not organized and conducted according to the Divine law. This explains why Islam extends its sense of organization to all walks of life: individual and social behavior, labor and industry, economics and politics national and international relations, and so on. It also demonstrates why Islam does not recognize "secularism" or separation of religion from man's daily transactions. The interaction between true religion and meaningful life is vital. And this is why Islam penetrates into all walks of life to conduct all human activities in a sound and wholesome manner, acceptable to God and benevolent to man.


Main Objectives of the Islamic Divine law:

  1. Protection and preservation of The Mind: Without mind humans can not comprehend and therefore can not be responsible of their actions and deeds. A subdivision of ‘Mind’ includes protecting the mind from anxiety, and repression, insuring the freedom of thinking, insuring the freedom of the pursuit of knowledge and making it a religious dictate. It also includes protecting the mind from anything that numbs or kills it, such as drugs or alcohol
  2. Protection and preservation of Religion: A subdivision of Religion includes the protection from attack by the enemies of the religion, or when the lands of Muslims are assaulted, and ethat everyone can freely worAllah without oppression or tribulations, and this includes the building of Mosques, the observance of Ramadan and so on. It also includes the prevention of any Islamically unlawful things to be available to the public and the enforcement of the divine laws of Islam (Sharia).
  3. Protection and preservation of Ownership: You have the right to own but the ultimate Owner is the Creator, Allah, Praised and Exalted be He, but we have the right to own, as trustees upon what we own. The subdivision of the category of Ownership includes how to make money in a clean way, and what are the prohibited ways of making money, which includes cheating, fraud, and theft. The Sharia protects your possessions within the limits. So if you are protecting your possessions against someone who attacks you and you die, you are a martyr. Capital in Islam has a function, whatever we have ultimately belongs to Allah, and we are His agents or trustees and we must manage and use our possessions according to His Will and His Plan, including the prohibition of dealing unlawful interest. It also includes rules and regulations for transactions and inheritance.
  4. Protection and preservation of Offspring: The subdivision of ‘Offspring’ includes the concept of honor, adultery, marriage, whom to marry, whom not to marry, the right to have two parents and to know them, the clarity and purity of the genealogy, all this is the protection of Offspring.
  5. Preservation of justice: Ensuring justice in the distribution of wealth and power among people, and justice in the relationship between the public and the ruling government.


The Status of Women in Islam:

The status of woman in Islam constitutes no problem. The attitude of the Quran and the early Muslims bear witness to the fact that woman is, at least, as vital to life as man himself, and that she is not inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species. Had it not been for the impact of foreign cultures and alien influences, this question would have never arisen among the Muslims. The status of woman was taken for granted to he equal to that of man. It was a matter of course, a matter of tact, and no one, then, considered it as a problem at all.


In order to understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era or in the modern world of today. Islam has given woman rights and privileges which she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied as a whole in a comparative manner, rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no problem. It is almost impossible to find two identical men or women.


This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just, fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights - but not identical - shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.


It is not the tone of Islam that brands woman as the product of the devil or the seed of evil. Nor does the Quran place man as the dominant lord of woman who has no choice but to surrender to his dominance. Nor was it Islam that introduced the question of whether or not woman has any soul in her. Never in the history of Islam has any Muslim doubted the human status of woman or her possession of soul and other fine spiritual qualities. Unlike other popular beliefs, Islam does not blame Eve alone for the First Sin. The Quran makes it very clear that both Adam and Eve were tempted; that they both sinned; that God's pardon was granted to both after their repentance; and that God addressed them jointly (2:35-36; 7:19,27; 20:117-123). In fact the Quran gives the impression that Adam was more to blame for that first sin from which emerged prejudice against woman and suspicion of her deeds. But Islam does not justify such prejudice or suspicion because both Adam and Eve were equally in error and if we are to blame Eve we should blame Adam as much or even more.


The status of woman in Islam is something unique, something novel, something that has no similarity in any other system. If we look to the Eastern Communist world or to the democratic nations, we find that woman is not really in a happy position. Her status is not enviable. She has to work so hard to live, and sometimes she may be doing the same job that a man does but her wage is less than his. She enjoys a kind of liberty which in some cases amounts to libertinism. To get to where she is nowadays, woman struggled hard for decades and centuries. To gain the right of learning and the

freedom of work and earning, she had to offer painful sacrifices and give up many of her natural rights. To establish her status as a human being possessing a soul, she paid heavily, Yet in spite of all these costly sacrifices and painful struggles, she has not acquired what Islam has established by a Divine decree for the Muslim woman.


The rights of woman of modern times were not granted voluntarily or out of kindness to the female. Modern woman reached her present position by force, and not through natural processes or mutual consent or Divine teachings. She had to force her way, and various circumstances came to her aid. Shortage of manpower during wars, pressure of economic needs and requirements of industrial developments forced woman to get out of her home to work, to learn, to struggle for her livelihood, to appear as an equal to man, to run her race in the course of life side by side with him. She was forced by circumstances and in turn she forced her self through and acquired her new status. Whether all women were pleased with these circumstances being on their side, and whether they are happy and satisfied with the results of this course is a different matter. But the fact remains that whatever rights modern woman enjoys fall short of those of her Muslim counterpart. What Islam has established for woman is that which suits her nature, gives her full security and protects her against disgraceful circumstances and uncertain channels of life. We do not need here to elaborate on the status of modern woman and the risks she runs to make her living or establish herself.

We do not even need to explore the miseries and setbacks that encircle her as a result of the so-called rights of woman. Nor do we intend to manipulate the situation of many unhappy homes which break because of the very "freedom" and "rights" of which modern woman is proud. Most women today exercise the right of freedom to go out independently, to work and earn, to pretend to be equal to man, but this, sadly enough, is at the expense of their families. This is all known and obvious. What is not known is the status of woman in Islam. An attempt will be made in the following passages to sum up the attitude of Islam with regard to woman: