All right, so. Sabbah jee wouldn't quit bugging me about sharing some more posts on the Great Zakir Naik whom she and I are crazy about. But I been promising myself to keep my blog posts nice and short, like under 600 words and stuff, so I won't be making this long. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit back in a couple of days for preceding parts of the series on Zakir Naik's Version of Women's Rights in Islam.
So, here goes nothing. Bismillah.
So, here goes nothing. Bismillah.
As I have discussed earlier, the reverence towards Zakir Naik appears to be due in part to his ostensibly pro-women teachings of Islam (and the promotion of education and scientific knowledge, not discussed here). When scrutinized, however, his views on women in fact relegate women to a secondary status in society, something disguised by his reiteration that Islam advocates the equality of women and men. He insists that their equality does not grant them equal rights, suggesting that women and men are equal in essence, but, because of their biological differences, they are designed to complement each other, not to have the same rights. He reinforces the idea of women’s submission to men, albeit subtly, and thereby reaffirms the popular belief in men’s inherent dominance and superiority over women. Importantly, he does not define the term “equality” other than to say, “Islam believes in equality of men and women. Equality does not mean identicality.” In other words, women and men are equal (he does not say how, but perhaps he means in value and merit), but they are physically designed differently (i.e., their reproductive roles differ). Certainly, two entities need not be the same in order to be equal in merit, but what is least clear in his argument is that to be equal, two groups do not need to look or be the same, but have equal rights, they must look or be the same. The concern here, then, is more regarding his definition of “equal rights” than of “equality.” One might wonder what is exactly the need for equality thus is, according to Naik's understanding of equality.
Naik translates the first lines of Qur’anic verse 4:34, Al-rijālu qawwāmūna ‘ala al-nisā’i as, “Men are the leaders of women,” and “men are protectors and maintainers of women.” This translation allows him to teach that Islam prohibits women from holding any positions of authority, because doing so would entail their leadership over men, which, he argues, contravenes verse 4:34.... He presents a different translation of verse 4:34 in different instances. In his book Rights of Women in Islam: Modern or Outdated?, he translates the verse as: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means.” He adds, “Admittedly, a woman is a weaker sex and she has got to be given special protection in certain matters.” This is a striking contradiction in his earlier claim that women and men are equal, for if they are equal, then why does one gender require the “special protection” of the other? Moreover, while the two genders may be equal, he designates men as “in charge of,” “the authority over,” or “the leaders of” women, thereby making women followers of and, arguably, subservient to men.
In upcoming posts on Naik and Women, I will discuss Naik’s rulings on various examples regarding women and gender (on working women, on women in politics, and on female prophets) and show how, once his statements are studied and scrutinized carefully, he indirectly teaches the inequality between women and men despite his claim that the two are equal.
 He frequently lectures on women’s rights and has published a book entitled Rights of Women in Islam: Modern or Outdated? (2009) in which he attempts to show that the rights that Islam gave women are far more superior to what America and other western countries have given to women.
 Zakir Naik, Rights of Women in Islam: Modern or Outdated? (New Delhi: Adam Publishers & Distributors, 2009),57.
 Ibid, 19.
 Ibid, 57.