Mukhtaran Mai's Case

Today (6/28/05), Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned the acquittals of 13 men accused of gang-raping a villager by the name of Mukhtaran Mai, and ordered the suspects arrested Tuesday in a case that has drawn international attention to the treatment of women in Pakistan. Islamic law, and all civil societal norms stand in condemnation of the barbaric gang rape of Mukhtaran Mai and those that committed this atrocious act. This act was nothing less than a crime of the highest level, and stands in direct contradiction to Quranic verses that prohibit even maligning a woman, let alone violating her in this incomprehensible manner. Islam unconditionally condemns and prohibits the oppression, humiliation, violation of women, and related acts of violence such as honor killings, immolation, acid attacks, and other atrocities committed in the name of “Muslim culture or tradition”. These acts, while often associated with Islam, are in fact committed by those with little or no knowledge of the teachings of the Qur’an, which states: “Believing men and women are protecting friends to one another”, or the saying of the Prophet Muhammad, who said: “The best of you are those who are best to their families”.

It is only through the courageous stands of women like Mukhtaran Mai – who not only risked her personal safety to take a stand against her attackers, but used her compensation money to start boys and girls schools in her village out of her belief that education was key to ending such abuses – and the support of honorable men and women, especially those in positions of power, that these terrible practices will end.

Frequently Asked Questions About Rights of Women in Islam

Are men and women equal in Islam?

Unequivocally yes, they are! Men and women are spiritual equals in Islam; they are equally important and accountable to God. Muslim men and women have the same duties and responsibilities to God. Numerous verses of the Quran speak to this including, “Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to them will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.” (Chapter 16, Verse 97)

Why then are women treated so poorly in Muslim populated countries?

Women are poorly treated in many developing and developed countries such as China, India, and the regions of Latin and South America, which are non Muslim populated societies. Treatment of women, children, and unprivileged groups depend on a number of factors, including the country, culture, region, education, social and economic development, family circumstances, and many other factors that differ not only from one country to country but also from city to village life. Even within a single-family, people have individual characters that impact their outlook and treatment of women.

While some Muslim men and cultures have oppressive or misogynistic attitudes or practices, others have women involved in the highest levels of education, employment, and politics, including heads of state in countries like Bangladesh, and formerly in Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey.

What is the Islamic view and punishment for rape? Why are women often punished for being raped in Muslim countries?

According to Islamic teachings, if a man is found guilty of raping a woman he is severely punished. There is absolutely no legal punishment of a raped woman in Islamic law. Regarding the punishment of some women occurring in Muslim countries, these cases are not based on Islam, but rather on culture and sheer ignorance. It is a cultural problem that needs to be addressed but Islamic law in no way condones such behavior towards women.

More questions such as these are addressed in our Women in Islam presentations.
ING is an apolitical, non-partisan educational institution with affiliates across the country. We provide presentations relating to Islam and Muslims including the topic of women in Islam.