The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.”
(Al-Qur'an, 9:71 - At-Tawba [Repentance, Dispensation] )

Questions about Muslim Women in the modern world: Here are a few questions asked by a non-Muslim woman who wants to know more about the position of women in Islam:

1. What are the main changes taking place in the lives of modern Muslim women in general?

2. Do Muslim women adopt any Western values?

3. Can a Muslim woman get a driving license in your country? If not is this due to a certain Islamic legislation?

4. Do Muslim girls attend the same schools with boys, share the same classes, and same teachers, etc…?

5. How do Muslim women act towards Muslim men when both are not married? Can they look at each other, meet, date, etc…?

6. Tell me about marriage customs in Islam? - What about divorce?

1. The main changes happening in the lives of Muslim women in my country as in the rest of Muslim states are that they are rediscovering Islam after being fed up with other ideologies and shaping their lives according to its teachings.

2. Muslim women try to replace Western customs by Islamic ones. They follow in the footsteps of the Prophet (PBUH), his wives and companions. They do, however, pick up the useful habits practiced by other people both east and west.

3. A Muslim woman is indeed entitled to get a driving license and to drive her own car. She can go shopping, but she should have a close relative as a companion on long distance trips. This is for her own safety.

4. In our country of origin, Muslim boys have separate schools as Muslim girls. We do not have co-education except under some secular regimes, which is against the teachings of Islam.

5. Muslim men and women should lower their gazes. They should not mix with one another unless it is necessary to do so. There is no dating in Islam. When a Muslim man wants to get married he can look at his future partner; the two families start to socialize until this is culminated by marriage.

6. Marriage customs: We have first the attempt of each partner to look for the other. This is basically done by the male who tries to look for his would-be wife. Then his family would approach the other family. If the answer is in the affirmative, then a meeting is arranged in the would be wife’s family house where she would meet the other side in the presence of other relatives. Once this occasion is over each side would form his/her opinions about the other.

More than one meeting can take place where the two can sit together, talk and try to know each other. In Islam it is the girl who gives the green light or refuses. The decision is hers. No one should force anything on her although the parents would discuss things concerning the other party. Once she says “Yes” then both families would arrange another occasion in the house of the girl so that the boy, his family and selected friends would come to make official asking of the girl’s hand. Some relatives and friends of both sides would also attend and sweets and *******ments would be distributed.

A prayer would also be recited on the occasion invoking God’s blessings to facilitate the fulfillment of this marriage. A talk will be given on the rights and duties of each of the couple in Islam. The next step would be that both sides would meet in the girl’s house in the presence of her family members; no dating is allowed, no outing are encouraged except in the company of the girl’s relatives. This is because Islam forbids sex before marriage or anything leading to it. If everything goes well, then the two parties agree on a day to make the marriage contract which should be implemented by a licensed Muslim scholar who would make sure that the girl has approved of this marriage and that she is going to receive her rightful dowry which is an essential part of every marriage contract.

It is the right of the bride to receive her dowry, no one is allowed to take it or any part of it without her permission. Both sides then prepare for the marriage ceremony which is, in fact, a big dinner party attended by friends and relatives of both sides. This is usually given by the bridegroom’s family. Food is served preferably in two separate halls and gifts are presented to the couple. Songs are played and female friends and relatives would dance for the bride in the presence of women only. No men are allowed in. The groom would have prepared future marriage house and the couple would go on a honeymoon trip according to the groom’s financial standing. In Islam the wife does not have to change her family name to adopt her husband’s family name. She has full right to keep her independent identity.

7. The veil or Hijab in Islam: Islam believes in modesty, purity and chastity. It takes every care that both sexes abide by these values. There is no pre-marital sex in Islam. Dating, dancing and mixed social gatherings are strictly forbidden. Women are entitled to education that suits their role as future mothers; they can have university or college degrees provided that they put on the proper Islamic dress. Islam considers women the most precious creatures in the human life. To protect them from all harm and intruders Islam stipulates Hijab or the veil on every grown-up woman. This means that she has to cover all her body with the exception of her face and hands. This is only when she goes out of her family house. But while among her close relatives-husband, sons, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, etc…- she can wear any dress as usual.

Islam considers looking at other sex with desire completely forbidden. Islam concentrates on the dignity and honor rather than the physical attractions of the fair sex. When their attractions are covered, women will be dealt with according to the more dignified human qualities they enjoy. Marriage life in Islam is based on mutual love, sincerity, cooperation and sacrifice. Both parties should watch their chastity and fidelity. Both should have no sexual relationship with anyone else. It happens some times that quarrels would take place in the family. So husband and wife should try to solve these quarrels and restore peace among themselves. The husband is the head of the family in Islam. He has the right to divorce because it is he who paid to establish the family structure. According to Islam divorce is resorted to when it is discovered that the couple can no longer keep their marriage.

This they do after all possible attempts are made to settle their problems. These attempts may include the couple discussing their problems by themselves without the interference of other parties which is preferred in Islam. If this fails then other sincere well wishers of the family might interfere. If this again fails then the first degree of divorce is applied provided that the wife should stay at home to give the chance to the couple to mend things and patch up their differences. After a certain period-which is three months-passes then the first degree of divorce takes effect. The couple can either separate in peace or if they change their minds they can return to the fold of marriage but with one degree of divorce on record.

Suppose this happen again and divorce is resorted to once again then the same procedure is applied to give another chance to this threatened family structure. They can return to one another after the second divorce too; but once the third divorce is made then marriage collapses and they have to be separated. After the third degree of divorce the divorced wife cannot return to her divorcing husband unless she gets married to another person. It should be a real marriage with the aim to give her a better chance for a happier life. If however, this new marriage collapses, then she can remarry her previous husband if she so wishes. There are numerous regulations for marriage and divorce in Islam whose aim is to establish fairness and equity among the concerned partners.