From the Archive
Dialogue is Evidence on Freedom of Religion in Islam
The Quranic Terminology: Denial
The Night When Muhammad Died
Dans l'immoralité et la promiscuité des membres du clergés, Al-Shaarawy n'est pas le seul, mais...!
When a Quranist Husband Suffers from his Non-Quranist Wife!
Concerning Iblis, Satan, the Muhammadans, and the Phrase (God is the Greatest!)
Quranic Terminology: Conceal (2)
More Details about Being Cursed
Islamic tolerance: a comparison between Egypt and America
How to destroy an entire country
Lessons Drawn from the New Zealand Massacre: The Culture of Double Standard Dominant in the Countries of the Muhammadans
Concept of Jihad, the core of war of ideas
Our Reply to a Question Posed by a Cultured Christian
The Timing of the Fasting Month of Ramadan (2): The Lunar Calendar as the Basis of the Islamic Acts of Worship, Including Fasting during Ramadan
Call for Muslims Reform
“Appointment with Education”
Fatwas Part Fifty-Three
Avoidance…For the Last Time
Firstly: the Might and the Truth
There is No “Custody of Men over Women”

In some articles in this site (and others), some writers insisted on using the term “The Custody of men over women”. The apparent motive behind this might be the protection of women. However, most of the restrictions and hardships on women and their progress in the community are caused by the vibrant presence of this term in the mentality of most Muslims. This is despite the fact that God never mentioned or used this terminology at all in Quran, which is what Muslims believe to be word of God.
1. Why does “Custody of Men over Women” exist?
Prior to the message brought by Muhammad, the desert tribal communities lived on grazing, hunting, invasions, and banditry on the convoys of the rich. Women were most often taken captives and they were treated as slaves that are used for the welfare and service of men. This caused the well-spread of slavery in a terrible way in that period to a limit it became an integral part of everyday life.
In that environment, men looked at women as a commodity, and that women can be purchased with most of their rights easily disregarded. For this reason, the thought that women are powerless creatures has become well-established in the mentality of men. Therefore, it has become impeccably logical and reasonable in these desert environments that for a woman to remain “free” in good conditions that she requires the protection and aid of man, and that she cannot live a decent life without the sovereignty of man.

In that environment, Muhammad was sent with a divine message that calls for justice, freedom, and the promotion of equal-opportunity among people. Therefore, most of those who followed Muhammad in that period were the slaves and the weak, because they felt in his message a divine scent that gave them hope to free them from the intellectual and social subordination to those who were controlling them.
However, straight after the death of the prophet, people quickly returned to the hall of the domination over the weak, and turning them into slaves for the welfare of the strong and influential people. Corruption and slavery spread more than how it was before Muhammad. Men started interfering and putting severe limitations and restrictions on the lifestyle of women. Men assumed full custody over women (even in their very private lives) to an unacceptable limit (as is happening these days in Saudi Arabia, etc.)

2. Why “Chapter of Women”?

A striking notion is that Quran (which Muslims believe to be direct words from God to all humanity) contains a long chapter titled with “Women”, as if this chapter is dedicated to addressing all women’s needs! However, reading the chapter reveals that its topics varied considerably, and some of which were concerned with the relation between man and woman. The general understanding of the chapter indicates that God always reminded both sides (men and women) with the necessity of reciprocating the rights and duties. Also it indicates that whenever any side of the two stops doing the allocated duties then an injustice and hardship is inflicted automatically over the other side. The relation between man and woman is an integrated relation in the society and there will not be any success as long as one side ignores the needs of the other side.
The environment where Quran was revealed caused the God’s speech on the relation between man and woman a speech that is strong on the men. The speech in Quran always reminds men “NOT” to transgress what God ordered towards women. Therefore, most verses that talk about women were directed to men with emphasized “Do” and “Don not”. Also, the verses stressed on fearing the punishment of God if men were to assign themselves as authoritative power over women.

The verses strictly tell that no one ever has the right to issue commands or orders that can affect the life of women except God, and only God. Quran strictly says (And they ask you about women, tell them it is only God who can give decrees on women) (4:176), which means that no one other than God has the right to issue laws or regulations concerning women. Therefore, it is our duty to only preserve what God commanded in the Book. It is our duty to iterate and explain any strict and straight commandment in the Book about women. We (as humans) have no right to invent and create explanations and commands about issues that are not mentioned in the Book, thus citing ourselves as more knowledgeable than God himself in his Book! Therefore, any issue that was not treated in the Book must be left free for the inquirer to deal with it as per the conditions set in his (or her) real world (provided no harm is done to others).
3. Guardianship and Custody

Many writers mix between Guardianship and Custody. Guardianship is mentioned in Quran, but custody or mandate (of men over women) is never mentioned at all in Quran. The requirement from men towards women (as guardianship) is to care about and for and protect women, not to assign themselves as judges over them. There is a huge difference between the two things.
Women are (on average) physically weaker than men, and they are less brave in demanding their rights. Therefore, it is well-spread in societies that the rights of women is usually neglected or not well preserved. Therefore, God ordered men to make efforts in helping and supporting women whenever they needed that support or help. This should not be taken as imposing man’s view on how a woman should run her life. What is happening these days is that men are taking control over women’s life in direct violation to what God told them to do.

4. There is no such a thing as “Custody of Men over Women”
The commandments that God ordered men to carry out indicate that man should not interfere in the personal life or women (unless they cause harm to others). Therefore, men should not assign themselves as judges over what women do. Look in these verses how the words insist on framing the freedom of women in running their lives as they see suitable, not as man wants:
- (For those who die and leave wives behind, they (the wives) should wait (before making another marriage) for 4 months and ten (days), and when they reached the end of this waiting you (men) should HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH WHATEVER THEY (women) DO WITH THEMSELVES (DECENTLY), and God is the best to know what you (all) are doing) ((2:234)
- (And those of you who die and leave wives behind, (make) a bequest in favor of their wives of maintenance for a year without turning (them) out, then if they (wives) themselves go away then you (men) should HAVE NO PROBLEM WITH WHATEVER THEY (women) DO WITH THEMSELVES (decently), God is wise and mighty)(2:240)
- (And if you divorce women and they reached their schedule then either maintain a relation in decency or leave them at liberty. DO NOT RESTRAINT OR HOLD THEM (women) TO CAUSE HARDSHIP IN THEIR LIVES, AND WHOEVER DOES THIS WILL CAUSE INJUSTICE TO HIMSELF..) (2:231).
- (And if you divorce women and they reached their schedule then DO NOT PLACE DIFFICULTIES IN THE WAY OF THEIR NEW MARRIAGES TO THEIR NEW HUSBANDS IF THEY BOTH AGREE ON THAT DECENTLY. This advised to whoever believes in God and the Day of Judgment.) (2:232)
- (Lodge them (women) where you (men) dwell (i.e. live equally together) AND DO NOT HARASS THEM TO CAUSE HARDSHIP IN THEIR LIVES. And if they were pregnant you (men) should spend for them until they deliver, and if they breastfed the children then give them their due payment. AND CONSULT EACHOTHER WITH KINDNESS, but if you found hardship (in breastfeeding) then another woman shall breastfeed (the children)) (65:12).
These verses and many others indicate that woman has her own personal liberty (as long as she doesn’t hurt anyone) exactly as man has his own liberty (as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone). The reason behind the many “DO NOT”s in those verses for men is that men of the that society got used to pushing their noses in the life of women in pretext that she is weak and she cannot protect herself.
This mentality of interfering in personal life of women, continued until these days with depicting women always second to men. However, this mentality was reshaped and termed with religious terms, such as “Custody of men over women”, as if the woman is a very weak creature that cannot pursue its path in this life.
Regardless to all noble justification put by those who support this mentality, the consequences of this mentality in the Islamic world is totally devastating. Take for example in Saudia Arabia, where women cannot walk freely alone in markets, and how they treat her like a disabled creature who cannot properly make do in the community. Look how, there, a brother imprisons his sister for long periods of times using the statement that he is the “mandatory guardian” over her, and that he does that for her goodness.
All these stinky secretions are direct result of feeding the minds of men with those poisonous and vile thoughts that they have the hand of authority over their women and sisters, and that they can control their lives as they wish.

The views and opinions of authors whose articles and comments are posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of IQC.