I was recently reading a book on history (by a non Muslim writer) and I read that the Koran says that man has been created superior to women. I was even more shocked when the writer quoted these words which he says are from the Koran “Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other”. Is this indeed what the Koran says?
The author has indeed referred to a verse of the Qur’an. The translation of the verse follows:
Men [as husbands] are responsible for their women because God has made the one superior to the other [in different spheres] and because they spend of their wealth…
The Arabic phrase “فضلنا بعضهم على بعض“ (i.e., “made the one superior to the other”) is not used to imply absolute superiority of one party as compared to another. On the contrary, this phrase is used to imply the superiority of one over the other from different perspectives, as if to say that one is superior over the other from one perspective, while the other is superior over the first from another perspective.
Keeping the stated implication of the phrase in mind, it should be clear that the referred verse of the Qur’an actually states that men have been made in charge of their wives, because God has made them more suitable for the purpose, just as God has made women more suitable for various other purposes.
I hope this explanation would resolve the issue that has arisen in your mind.
July 29, 2002