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The status of and esteem for women in Islam

Islam wants men and women to develop. Islam freed women from those circumstances, which existed for them during the age of ignorance of pre-Islamic times. Islam did not serve men to the extent that it did women. You cannot imagine what circumstances were like for women during pre-Islamic times and to what degree their situation improved with the advent of Islam. (41)

9 November 1978 (18 Aban 1357 AHS)

Islam did a service for women, which has no precedent in history. Islam raised women up out of that slough and gave her back her identity. (42)

9 November 1978 (18 Aban 1357 AHS)

Question: In the eyes of Western countries, Shi`ism is seen as being a conservative element hindering progress. We have heard Shi`ite calls for the exclusion of women from active roles in society and a return to Shi`ite laws, which envisage religious tradition as the basis of state laws, something stipulated in the Constitution but later and unlawfully dropped. We have also heard that Shi`ism rejects the Western lifestyle because it does not conform to religious customs. Would you please give us your view on this on the basis of the Shi`ite faith?

Reply: Shi`ism is a revolutionary school of thought and is a continuation of the true Islam of the Prophet. Just like the Shi`ites themselves, their faith has always been the target of craven attacks from dictators and imperialists. Not only does Shi`ism not exclude women from society, it gives them their elevated status in society. We accept the developments of the Western world, but not the West’s corruption of which Westerners themselves complain. (43)

15 November 1978 (24 Aban 1357 AHS)

Islam took women by the hand and made them equal with men, whereas before the Prophet came, women had no standing. Islam gave women strength. (44)

11 December 1978 (20 Azar 1357 AHS)

We want women to attain the high rank of true humanity. Women must have a share in determining their destiny. (45)

6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)

If nations were deprived of courageous women to rear true human beings, they would decline and collapse. (46)

6 March 1979 (15 Isfand 1357 AHS)

Islam holds you in higher esteem than it does men. Islam wants to save you; it wants to save you from becoming this plaything they want to turn you into. Islam wants to train you to become a perfect human being. (47)

8 March 1979 (17 Isfand 1357 AHS)

Unfortunately, women have suffered from victimisation in the past, notably in two periods. The first was during the Age of Ignorance, the period before the advent of Islam. During this time, women were oppressed; they were treated like animals, even worse than animals. Then Islam came and bestowed its blessings on mankind, it dragged women out of that state of oppression, [and] it pulled her from that slough of ignorance. (48)

16 May 1979 (26 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)

. . . Women are human beings, great human beings. Women are the educators of society. It is from the laps of women that true human beings originate. The first stage in the development of sound men and women begins in the lap of a woman. Women are the educators of human beings. A country’s success or its misfortune depends on women. If they impart sound teachings, they create (sound) human beings and a flourishing country. Good fortune originates from the laps of women; they should be the source of every success and happiness . . . (49)

16 May 1979 (26 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)

Mothers are the source of all blessings, but if, God forbid, they bring their children up badly, they become the source of all evil. (50)

17 July 1979 (26 Tir 1358 AHS)

The realisation of mankind’s hopes lies in the hands of women. She is the educator of great men and women. It is from the laps of women that man begins his ascent. It is in the laps of women that great men and great women are nurtured. (51)

17 May 1979 (27 Urdibihisht 1358 AHS)

Women raise brave men in their care. Like the Noble Qur’an itself, women have the function of rearing and training true human beings. Indeed, it is their duty to do so. If nations were deprived of women to rear true human beings, they would decline and collapse. (52)

1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)

The position of women is a high one. Women in Islam enjoy a high rank. (53)

1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)

We want women to enjoy the high rank of true humanity, which is theirs, not to be a plaything in the hands of men, in the hands of depraved men. (54)

1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)

Islam grants woman a say in all affairs, just as it grants man a say. Just as men should avoid corruption, so too should women. Women should not allow themselves to be playthings in the hands of dissolute youths, they should not lower their station and, God forbid, come out into the streets dressed up and made up, placing themselves in full view of depraved men. Women must act like true human beings; they must be pious. Women enjoy a dignified position; they have free will, just as men have. God created you free beings and gave you dignity. (55)

1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)

Islam has particular regard for women. Islam appeared in the Arabian Peninsula at a time when women had lost their dignity, and it raised them up and gave them back their pride. Islam made women equal with men; in fact, it shows a concern for women that it does not show for men. (56)

1 February 1980 (12 Bahman 1358 AHS)

One of the benefits of the Islamic movement obvious today is that women, these effective members of society, have to some extent regained their standing. (57)

5 May 1980 (15 Urdibihisht 1359 AHS)

Adapted from: “The Position of Women from the Viewpoint of Imam Khomeini (r.a.)”