This is one of the most important parts of the Quran : it is basically a code of laws, quite reminiscent of the Leviticus in the Old Testament. Most of Islam's social implications are contained in this Surah.

The title is "Women", but it covers many other topics of everyday life. However, it should be stressed that the fate of women under Quranic law is not as miserable as one might think.

The Quran was in fact a big step forward for women's rights - that is, in comparison to the standards of the time. For the first time, women were recognized as legal entities, having basically the same rights as men. The only differences are linked to family life (including marriage), and stem from the fact that "Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because God has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means" (which was an obvious truth at the time). Forced marriage is strictly forbidden (yes, it is). Women can choose to break marriage (although the conditions are quite harsh).

Now don't get me wrong: although one must admit that those laws were remarkably liberal, given their context (the Mediterranean world in th VIIth century), they're still very far from modern western standards : a man can have several wives (up to four), and can beat them in case of "disloyalty and ill-conduct" (ie disobeying your husband in any way), after having "admonish(ed) them (first), (Next), refuse(d) to share their beds" (which de facto forbids forced sex, but still enforces brutal male domination).

Here's the Holy Stuff:

  1. The Holy Quran, Surah 4: Women (verses 1-60)
  2. The Holy Quran, Surah 4: Women (verses 61-120)
  3. The Holy Quran, Surah 4: Women (verses 121-176)

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