Muslim Women in India

The role of women in Indian society is a burning subject today. Yet millions of women, both in rural and urban settings, are facing violence and its various manifestations as a matter of routine.

Written by


Published on

The role of women in Indian society is a burning subject today. Yet millions of women, both in rural and urban settings, are facing violence and its various manifestations as a matter of routine. The condition of Indian women is very much shocking. There are certain limitations due to India’s cultural and familial background. Lastly we must not miss the latest violation of their rights in the name of science, i.e. amniocentesis test which determines the sex of the embryo before birth. Parental preference for sons is of course nothing new, nor indeed is it a feature peculiar to India.
In the early 1994, serious concern was expressed by a member of Lok Sabha over the increasing cases of criminal assault on women, gang rapes, dowry deaths, etc.
The 1993 census report of India reported 8,011 cases of eve-teasing, 98 cases of molestation, and in the first half of 1994 there were 30,591 cases of sexual harassment and 125 cases of molestation. It was further reported that nearly 25,000 dowry deaths occurevery year. According to the figures documented by the Bureau of Police Research and Development, New Delhi in 1992 there were 2,05,602casesof rape reported all over India. Education-wise 60% women are illiterate and 30% women have no access to primary schools. This pattern is found almost all over the country.
One can assert that Muslim women under the Islamic injunctions are provided better status compared to other religious groups. But, even the Muslim women face many handicaps such as unilateral divorce, lack of support in the event of dissolution of marriage, etc.
Violation of women’s rights exists equally in the Hindu society as well as in minority communities. In the Muslim community, which is the second largest community, the number of human rights violation is increasing day by day.
Women in Islam
Islam granted women many rights which had been denied to them in all the then societies. It improved the position of women in many areas. Islam presents a moderate and well-balanced view of the rights of women. It confers on them all those economic, political and social rights which are granted to men. Islam provides right to live equally for both man and woman. The Holy Qur’an says:
“When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned for what crime she was killed”… (31: 8-9)
“And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness….. (2: 228).
“They (women) are raiment for you and you (men) are raiment for them” (2: 187).
“And whoso doeth good work, whether of male or female, and he or she is a believer, such will enter Paradise and they will not be wronged the dint in a date stone” (4: 124).
Thus, we can say that according to Islam male and female are equally answerable to God for their actions and will be rewarded equally. Both have legal and conjugal rights, although these rights are not equal, as husbands being protectors and providers have been granted a higher position. But women are also said to excel over men in their own field. Islam has provided so many special provisions for women such as abolition of infanticide, limitation of polygyny, protection of widows and orphans, marriage contract, granting of dowry and inheritance rights.
 Thus it can be summarised that Islam has bestowed so many rights to women. It confers on women all those economic, political and social rights which are enjoyed to a man. Above all, dignity and honour has been bestowed upon her to her status in the family, community, society and state.
constitution vis-à-vis shariah
In India, we notice that under the Constitution of India women enjoy equal rights as that of men. Because the Constitution provides Fundamental Rights for all citizens under Articles 14 to32. Indian women are beneficiaries of these rights in the same manner as Indian men. Articles 14 and 15 provide equality of sex between men and women and discrimination on the basis of sex alone, is declared as illegal and ultra virus of the Constitution. The Constitution providesso many rights to women without any discrimination. Some of them are hereunder.
Right to live
The Constitution granted right to life for both men and women equally and abolished girl killing (infanticide) by law. Islam also enjoins people to respect the rights of women, to let them live just like men, and grants her the right to live and declares that whosoever lays hand on this right of hers (to live) will have to account for this felony of his.
Right to education
Indian law grants it equally for both men and women and provides many facilities to promote girl education. Islam has also provides right to education for women and all the impediments in this way were removed and all sorts of facilities provided to promote its cause.
The Constitution provides rights of women against any kind of exploitation and abolished all types of exploitation at the place of family, society, market or any other place. Islam has also imposed severe punishment against women’s exploitation and not only protected women against tyranny but put a step to all sorts of tyranny and exploitation.
Right to property
According to Indian law, women have their legal share in their parents’ and husband’s properties. They can claim in the court for their share in property. Islam has guaranteed that women get property from their parents, husband or the offspring. Under the Islamic Shari’ah, she is the rightful owner of it.
All the laws of the country including the enactments of all states, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act – 1956, The Maternity Benefit Act – 1961 (Amended in 1995), Dowry Prohibition Act – 1961, The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act – 1971, The Equal Remuneration Act – 1976, The Child Marriage Restraint (Amended) Act – 1979, The Criminal Act – 1983, and The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act – 1986 stipulate this condition.
Thus we can see that Indian law and Islamic law both have granted equal rights to women and provided many other facilities to promote their status in the family, society and world at large. So there is no contradiction between them. All the provisions which are granted by the Constitution are equally applicable to Muslim women along with the provisions under Fundamental Rights. So there is no question of dissemination against Muslim women.
Why are they denied all these rights? Who are responsible for that? The community as a whole, the individuals and certain other factors create hurdles in their way to rights and freedoms. Lack of knowledge of religion especially the Shariah, and lack of spirit to enact and implement these holy principles in the real life are some of the causes. It is therefore incumbent on the Muslim society to turn to Islam and make amends for the past criminal negligence.
Muslim women are hardly aware of their Constitutional rights and those rights which are granted by the Islamic law. So, without fighting for them it is very difficult for them to get even their natural rights.