Islam and Women’s Rights | Overcoming Inequality | Center for Inquiry (2022)

Presented are excerpts fromAzam Kamguian’sbook, Islam & Women’s Rights.

Religion in general and Islam in particular are women’s enemy. Women’s inequality is god’s commandment, in Islam enshrined in immutable law by Mohammad and eventually recorded in scripture. In most countries under Islamic states or under the influence of Islam, Koran’s directives are incorporated into contemporary law.

Family law in these countries generally follows the prescriptions of Koran. Veiling (hijab), divorce laws, a very young legal age of marriage, custody of children, polygamy, women’s rightlessness in matters of employment, travelling, choosing the place of residence, honor killing are all aspects of Islamic Shari’a based on the Koran and Islam’s doctrine. Together with these, in countries under the Islamic states, women are stoned to death for engaging in voluntary sexual relations and are stripped of their basic human rights.

As many Western and Eastern apologists for Islam repeatedly tell us that what is happening to women in the so-called Islamic countries is not according to real Islam, and that real Islam is egalitarian, I mainly refer to the Koran. Laws about women are the most cruel, inhumane and cunning aspects of the Koran and IslamicShari’a.

Women are the Inferior Sex

The rigid laws of Islam have deprived half of the population of their basic human rights. The male is in charge of the female: Koran 4:34, and the subjugated half is led to believe, through Islamic teachings, that the supremacy of the man is the will of Allah, and it has been predestined for women to live as submissive, obedient wives.

They are forced to accept that women are inferior to men, that their testimony is equal to only half that of the man, that they should inherit one – half of the male share, that Allah doesn’t want to see any women unveiled, that she may not conserve with men except her father, or her brother. The proper job and position for women is taking care of home, children and to be ahousewife. The majority of Muslim women are brought up with the conviction that it is Allah’s command for them to be under maledominance and their fates are interwoven with that of men.

In the Koran there are four so called neutral verses where women are considered equal to men (at least not demeaning towards women); to which apologists for Islam refer us repeatedly. Here are those:

3: 195 “Their Lord responded to the: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female, you are equal to one another¦.”

4: 124 “As for those who lead a righteous life, male or female. While believing, they enter paradise; without the slightest injustice”

16: 97 “Anyone who works righteousness, male or female, while believing, we will surely grant them a happy life in this world, and we will surely pay them their full recompense for their righteous works.”

40: 40 “Whoever commits a sin is required for just that, and whoever works righteousness – male or female – while believing, these will enter paradise wherein they receive provision without any limits.”

In opposition to above four so-called neutral verses, there are hundreds of versed that deliberately defame and dehumanize women:

An-Nisa 4: 34 “As to those women On whose part ye fear disloyalty andill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share beds, (andLast)
beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek notagainst them means (of annoyance): For God is Most High, Great (aboveyou all)”

Al – Baqara 2: 223 “Your women are a tilt for you (to cultivate) so go to your tilt as ye will, and send (good deeds) before you for your souls, and fear Allah, and know that ye will (one day) meet Him. Give glad tidings to believers, (o Mohammad)”

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Al – Baqara 2: 222 “They questioned thee (O Mohammad) concerning menstruation, Say it is an illness, so let women alone at such times and go not unto them till they are cleansed.”

Al – Baqara 2: 228 “Men, your wives are your tillage. Go into your tillage any way you want.”

“Women have suchhonourable rights as obligations, but men have a (single) degree above them.”

“Men are managers of the affairs of women because Allah has preferred men over women and women were expended of their rights.”

4:6 ¦ “And if ye are sick on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have contact with a woman & ye find not water, then go to clean high ground & rub your faces & your hands with some of it¦”

33: 32-33 “O ye wives of the prophet! Ye are not like any other women.If ye keep your duty (to Allah), then be not soft of speech lest he inwhose heart is a disease aspire to you, but utter customary speech Andstay in your houses. Bedizen not yourselves with the bedizenment ofthe time of ignorance. Be regular in prayer, & pay the poor due, 7obey Allah & His messenger

Hadith, Mohammad’s Tradition

“If a man and woman are alone in one place, the third person present is the devil.”

“I was shown the hell-fire and that the majority of itsdwellers were women who were ungrateful”

“If it had been given me toorder someone to prostrate themselves in front of someone other thanGod, I would surely have ordered women to prostrate themselves infront of their husbands¦”

“A woman cannot fulfill her duties towardsgod without first having accomplished those that she owes herhusband.”

“The woman who dies & with whom the husband is satisfiedwill go to paradise.”

“A wife should never refuse herself to herhusband even if it is on the saddle of a camel.”

“Hellfire appeared tome in a dream & I noticed that it was above all people with women whohad been ungrateful. “Was it towards god that they were ungrateful?”They had not shown any gratitude towards their husbands for all theyhad received from them ¦ Even when all your life you have showered awoman with your largesse she will still find something petty toreproach you with one day, saying, “You have never done anything forme.”

“If anything presages a bad omen it is a house, a woman, and ahorse.”

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“Never will a people know success if they confide theiraffairs to a woman.”

Veiling (Hijab)

One of the most misogynistIslamic laws with respect to women is the requirement for completeveiling (hijab) in accordance with koranic tenets. The wearing of theveil was instituted by Mohammad in the early days of Islam. Withinabout one hundred years of his death, the institution of veiling andseclusion had been spread all over the Middle East. One and a halfcenturies after his death, the system was fully established.

The effect of all kinds of veils is the same, the woman is renderedanonymous, a non -person, unapproachable, just a silent being skulkingalong. She is taboo. The Islamic head- cover mentioned in Koran 33:59, and the curtain referred to in Koran 33: 53, which was meant toseparate the man from the woman. Why is Islam so obsessed with keepingmen and women part? Why have Islam gone to such great lengths tomaintain control over women?

The main reason for hijab is the need forcontrolling women’s sexuality. Veiling internalizes the Islamic notionin women that they belong to an inferior sex, and that they are sexobjects. It teaches them to limit their physical movements and theirfree behavior. Veiling is a powerful tool to institutionalize women’ssegregation and to implement a system of sexual apartheid. Itsignifies the subjugation and servitude of women based on Islamicdoctrine and Koranic teachings. Much more than a way of clothing,hijab is the manifestation of an outright Islamic misogynism and anantiquated view on women’s status. It is designed to control women’ssexuality much more effectively than any other religion or ideologicalsystem.

The following quote is attributed to Mohammad by a number ofHadith collectors: “A woman is a pudendum (awrat) which is proper tohide and cover; therefore when a woman goes out Satan looks at her anddesire to carry her from the road.” In the eyes of Mohammad, accordingto this quote, all male believers are potential “Satans”
who might tryto take unconcealed women for themselves.

Mohammad himself was one ofthe men who were unable to control their lust upon looking at women.Once he visited the home of Zayd, his adopted son, and there sawZaynab, Zayd’s wife, half-naked. Mohammad’s obvious desire for thewoman eventually led to the divorce of Zayd from his wife and shortlythereafter Mohammad married her himself.

The law of veiling is not only humiliating to women, but it is an insult to men. It is a clearindication that, in the eyes of Mohammad; all Muslim males weresex-crazed. The obvious Implication is that seeing a woman without aveil would cause the typical Muslim male to lose control and thatunveiled women would constantly be subjected to unwanted sexualadvances.

Veil (hijab) is imposed on women in many countries under theinfluence of Islam, either legally or under cultural and socialpressure.

During the last thirty years, hijab has been and continuesto be the political and ideological symbol of political Islam, Islamicstates and the Islamic movement in the Middle East, North Africa andCentral Asia. Women have been the first – hand victims of thisreactionary movement, and imposing the veil on women by Islamicmovement and Islamic governments has been their fist bloody action tosuppress the whole society. In other countries, Saudi women typicallydon a billowy black cloak called an Abaya, along with a black scarfand veil over the face. Morality police enforce the dress code bystriking errant women with sticks. The women of Iran and the Sudan can expose the face, but should cover the hair and the neck. Otherwise,they face arrest, imprisonment, flagging, cash fines; and if theyrefuse it, they face knife and acid attack. Under Taliban, women ofAfghanistan had to wear burqa. Political Islamic groups vigorouslycampaign to block reforms in women’s civil rights in the Middle Eastand North Africa. As long as Islam secludes women from the publiclife, no real socio-economic progress is possible.

The Wild and Naked Misogyny in the Koran

The most despicable expression one can ever comeacross is that according to Hadith, women of heaven will be created insuch a way that after each sexual intercourse, they will become virginagain. What a wild and naked misogyny! What an insult to women and tohumans!
Here, I quote Koranic verses about Huris, virgins and thesexist nature of Islam. These are few among many in the Koran:

52: 17-20 “They will recline (with ease) on thrones arranged in ranks. AndWe shall marry them to Huris with wide lovely eye. There they shallpass from hand to hand a cup of wine.”

37:40-48 “They will sit withbashful, dark -eyed virgins, as chaste as the sheltered eggs ofostriches.”
44:52-55 “Yes and we shall wed them to dark-eyedbeautiful virgins.”

55:56-57 “In them will be bashful virgins neitherman nor Jinn will have touched before. Then which of favorites ofyour Lord will you deny?”

78: 31 “As for the righteous, they surelytriumph. Their gardens and vineyards and high – breast virgins for companions, truly overflowing cup of wine.”

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78: 33-34 “And young full-breasted (mature) maidens of equal age, and a full cup of wine.”“Then which of the blessings of your Lord will you both (Jinn and men)deny? (In beauty) they are like rubies and corals.”

56: 7-40 “Owecreated the Huris and made them virgins, loving companions for thoseon the right hands.”

55: 70-77 “In each there shall be virgins chasteand fair, dark-eyed virgins sheltered in their tents whom neither man nor Jinn have touched before.”

56: 22 “And there will be Huris withwide, lovely eyes as wives for the pious.” 56: 35-36 “Verily, We havecreated them (maidens) of special creation. And made them virgins.”

40: 45 “Surely for the God-fearing awaits a place of securitygardens and vineyards and maidens with swelling breasts.”
The tidings:30

“The Huris are ever – young women who have wide eyes, flexingglances and swelling breasts.”

Divorce

According to the Koran andIslamic law, a man has the right to terminate his marriage wheneverand wherever he pleases. It is the absolute power of a Muslim male torepudiate his wife unilaterally at his discretion. He needs no reasonfor a divorce; a family quarrel or bad temper is sufficient. Divorcedoes not require any court, judge, lawyer, or counselor. One phrasefrom a husband is enough to break the marriage bond: “you aredivorced.”

The Koran states:

“If ye wish to exchange one wife foranother¦.”
(4:20), giving the absolute power to the man to repudiatehis wife and marry another without any formalities. In fact more thantwo dozens verses in Allah’s scripture explain the modes of divorce(Koran 2: 226, 227, 228, 230 -37, 241, 242; 4: 19-21, 130; 33: 49; 58:3, 4; 63: 1-7; 4: 35).

According to Islamic law, when a man wishes todivorce his wife, all he has to do is to say: “you are divorced,” or“you are dismissed.” In the second half of the 20th century, based onsome legal changes in some of the Middle Eastern countries, men arerequired to be present in family courts and repudiated their wivesbefore a judge. A man may divorce a wife and call her back up to threetimes. After the third repudiation, he cannot take her back againunless she marries and is separated from someone else first.

Fear ofpoverty keeps many women locked in bad marriages, as does the prospectof losing their children. Typically, fathers win custody of boys overthe age of six and girls after the onset of puberty.

A woman can suefor divorce in the Islamic court on the specific grounds, such as theimpotency of her husband, non-payment of maintenance, or his insanity.Cruelty is not sufficient grounds for divorce because wife beating isenjoined in the Koran. When a woman applies to the court for aninjunction of divorce, and the husband is not willing to repudiateher, the procedure can be very lengthy and in most cases is futile.

The offering of financial consideration of some sort is commonly therepayment of the bride- price. When the marriage is contracted, a sumof money is stipulated to be paid by the husband to the wife or hermale kinsmen before or after the wedding. This is called mahr (bride-price), which means marriage settlement or dowry.

A man who divorceshis wife must pay the full amount of the bride- price. When the wifeagrees to buy her freedom, it is called khula in Arabic, which meanssomething belonging to the wife is taken away from her. “There is nosin for either of them if the woman ransom herself.” (Koran 2:229) Thetext of the scripture makes clear that the wife is actually payingmoney to her husband to get her freedom.

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This is ransom money,reminiscent of the ancient Arabian nomad’s rite, which allowed therelease of the booty or captive of the raids after receiving a ransomor head – price. Thus, in Islam a man actually buys his wife when hebargains over the bride – price (mahr) and sells his wife’s freedomback to her when a financial settlement is paid for by her for adivorce.

The legal Age of Marriage

At the age of 9, based on lunaryear (when a girl is actually 8 years and 8 months) she is consideredan adult and has to pray, fast and cover herself by hijab and eligibleto be married. Mohammad’s favorite wife, Aisha; according toevidence, was 6 when Mohammad met her, and nine when the marriageconsummated.

Custody of Children

According to Islamic law, womancannot get custody of her children, even if their father dies. In thecase of divorce or death, she surrenders her children to their father and /or his family.

Women’s other Civil Rights

Women living underIslamic Law cannot travel, work, study, and leave their houses withouttheir fathers or husbands’ permission. They do not have the right tochoose the place of their residence. Under the terms of Koranic law,any judge fulfilling the seven requirements (that he have reachedpuberty, be a believer, know the Koranic laws perfectly, be just, andnot be affected by amnesia, or not born illegitimate, or be of thefemale sex), is qualified to dispense justice in any type of cases.According to Islamic Law, woman cannot choose her mate and is notpermitted to divorce him. Her husband can divorce without herknowledge, and according to Shari’a, he is required to support her foronly 100 days.

Polygamy

According to the Koran a man can have fourpermanent wives and as many temporary wives as he wants:

2: 3 And ofye are apprehensive that ye shall not deal fairly with orphans, then,of other women who seem good in your eyes marry but two, or three orfour, and if ye still fear that ye shall not act equitably, then oneonly; or the slaves whom ye have acquired.

Al -Nisa 4: 24 “And allmarried women (are forbidden unto you) save those (captives)
whom yourright hand possess. ¦”

“Also (prohibited are) women already marriedexcept those whom your right hands possess:

33: 52 “It is notlawful for thee (to marry more) women after this, nor to change themfor (other) wives, even though their beauty attract thee, except anythy right hand should possess (as handmaidens): and Allah doth watchover all things.”

Al – Nisa 4: 34 “Marry such women as seem good toyou, two, three, four; but if you fear you will not be equitable, thenonly one, or what your right hands own; so it is likelier you will notbe partial.”

23: 1,5,6 “Happy now the believers, humble is theirprayers, shunning vain conversation, paying the poor -due, and whorestrain their appetites except with their wives or the slaves whomtheir right hands possess: for in that case they shall be free fromblame.”

33: 49-51 “O prophet! We allow thee they wives whom thou hastdowered, and the slaves whom thy right hand possesseth out of thebooty which God hath granted thee, and the daughters of thy uncles,thy paternal and maternal aunts who fled with thee to Medina, and anybelieving woman who hath given herself up to the Prophet, if theprophet desired to wed her – a privilege for thee above the rest ofthe Faithful. We well know what we have settled for them, in regard totheir wives and to the slaves¦; that there may be no fault on thy part¦
Thou mayest decline for the present whom thou wilt of them, and thoumayest take to thy bed her whom thou wilt, and whomsoever thou shaltlong for those thou shalt have before neglected, and this shall not bea crime in thee.”

Honour Killing

Honor killings are an example of apractice that is commonly associated with Islam. It has broader rootand has been incorporated into Islamic rules and Islamic law; Shari’a.It is based in medieval tribal culture, in which a family’sauthority and ultimately its survival is tightly linked to its honor.Muslim perpetrators repeatedly justify their crime by referring to theKoran that states harsh punishments for adultery.

Civilized humanity has slowly moved towards the equal treatmentof women and the recognition of women’s equal rights. Religionsare one of the oldest and the most persistent obstacles on the way ofwomen’s equality and freedom. Indeed, religion is women’s enemy and itis the nature of all religions particularly Islam to look backwards topast ancient times and antiquated values. Women will be universallyequal someday, when that day comes, it will arrive in spite of allreligions and as a result of a just and powerful fight against Islam.

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FAQs

How did Islam affect women's rights? ›

Allah (SWT) has created both men and women without subordination of one another. Islam has ensured gender equality and women's rights in every sphere of their life. Islam has guaranteed rights of men and women in an equal degree and there is no discrimination between men and women.

Do Muslims support gender equality? ›

Respect and upholding of women's rights in Islam are enshrined in its most valuable principles because Islam recognizes the religious, social, economic, legal and political rights of women. .

What does the Quran say about inequality? ›

The Quran advocates equality between all and says that the only good deeds may raise the status of one human over another.

What are women's rights under Islamic rule? ›

Moreover, Islamic law has from the outset given women full legal capacity once they attain puberty. Even in medieval times Muslim women enjoyed rights that Western women only won much later, such as the right to own and manage property, to sue and to be sued, and to enter into contracts and conduct business.

What does Islam say about gender roles? ›

Men are providers for women and in exchange for support, women should be obedient and serve their husbands. They should keep their virginity and after marriage, loyalty, chastity and complete dedication to their husbands are prerequisite for securing maintenance. Women are seen as weak and as easily overpowered by men.

What did the Prophet say about women's rights? ›

He said: "Fear Allah regarding women. Verily you have married them with the trust of Allah, and made their bodies lawful with the word of Allah. You have got (rights) over them, and they have got (rights) over you in respect of their food and clothing according to your means."

What does the Quran say about female education? ›

GIRLS' EDUCATION IS A DIVINE COMMAND

In the Holy Quran, Allah orders both men and women to increase their knowledge and condemns those who are not learned.

What does the Quran say about women's modesty? ›

turn ye all together towards Allah, that ye may attain Bliss. Both men and women are commanded to lower their gaze and "guard their modesty". The most basic interpretation of "guard their modesty" is to cover the private parts, which includes the chest in women ("draw their veils over their bosoms").

What does Islam teach about equality? ›

According to Islam,God has given man this right of equality as a birthright. Therefore no man should be discriminated against on the ground of the colour of his skin, his place of birth, the race or the nation in which he was born.

What was the first religion to give women's rights? ›

Islam was also the first of the monotheistic religions to give women the right of inheritance and the right to earn: “Men shall have a share of that which they have earned, and women a share of that which they have earned.”

Why women's education is important in Islam? ›

Woman education is an imperative element, which enables her to cultivate her mode of thought and to generate a noble akhlaq as well as belief in Allah to her children. The Prophet emphasized the importance of education even though she is a slave.

Who quoted Quran verses to argue for women's education? ›

The correct answer is Mumtaz Ali. Mumtaz Ali was a social reformer and feminist who fought for the right of women. ​Mumtaz Ali reinterpreted verses from the Koran to argue for women's education.

Can a wife work in Islam? ›

With regard to women's work, Islam does not put any impediments in the path of a woman who wants to work. However, the Islamic system does not require a woman to work outside her home in order to earn her living. Women should be looked after by their husbands, or by their male relatives if they are unmarried.

Is it haram to force someone to wear hijab? ›

To this she smiled and replied, “There is no compulsion in religion. One should not force someone to wear the hijab no matter how old they are, though one can suggest it and tell them how it's a good thing. Ultimately, though, it is a matter for the people and their own personal choices.

Does the Quran say to wear a hijab? ›

Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 59

Islam places the primary responsibility of observing hijab not on women – but on men. It's critical to understand this point. Wearing the headscarf is one form of hijab, but men often forget that hijab is much more. The Quran commands men to not stare at women and to not be promiscuous.

Can men wear hijab? ›

Men in Hijab is a movement in Iran and other parts of the Persian world in which men wear the hijab, or female headscarf, as a show of solidarity with their female relatives and wives. It seeks to end the requirement of women to wear the hijab outdoors.

How does religion affect gender inequality? ›

In countries with dominant religions that are gender inequitable, it is possible that gender outcomes are worsened through the government channel as well. An individual's religious denomination may influence gen- der norms and outcomes, implying that some religions could be more patriarchal than others.

Did Allah have a wife? ›

From these wives, two bore him children: Khadija and Maria al-Qibtiyya. All of Muhammad's wives were widows or had divorced, with the exception of Aisha.
...
Muhammad's wives.
ConsortMarried
Khadijah595–619
Sawdah619–632
Aishac. 623–632
Hafsah625–632
9 more rows

What does Quran say about human rights? ›

Primarily Right to live and respect human dignity is a basic human right recognised by Allah through this Quranic verse “whosoever kills a human being (without any reasonable or justifiable cause), manslaughter or corruption on earth, it is as though he had killed all mankind”.

What is Islamic equity law? ›

Yet, the concept of equity as we know it in the West is the antithesis of the Islamic view that all law is derived from God through the Koran and the sunna. Equity is grounded in the precepts of the conscience, a preconceived set of norms existing apart from positive law.

What did Prophet Muhammad said about justice? ›

The Prophet was instructed, “Say [O Muhammad], 'My Lord has commanded justice…'” (Quran 8:29). In the Islamic worldview, justice is the most important value. Every action that a person does can be framed as an act of justice or of injustice.

What is a famous quote from the Quran? ›

Allah (The Almighty) tests the faith and patience of the believer through hardship. In Quran 67:2, he said: “Allah is He who created death and life to test you as to which of you is best in deed.”

What are basic human rights in Islam? ›

According to Mawdudi, the right to life, security, freedom and justice are basic Islamic rights. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation's 1990 Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam is a concrete attempt at formulating such Islamic rights.

What are the 6 main beliefs of Islam? ›

Muslims have six main beliefs.
  • Belief in Allah as the one and only God.
  • Belief in angels.
  • Belief in the holy books.
  • Belief in the Prophets... e.g. Adam, Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Dawud (David), Isa (Jesus). ...
  • Belief in the Day of Judgement... ...
  • Belief in Predestination...
19 Jul 2011

What is human freedom in Islam? ›

Freedom is a gift of ALLAH for mankind and mankind needs to make full use of this divine without harming and being harmed by others. Every man has the basic right to freedom throughout his life.

Why is interest not allowed in Islam? ›

Prohibition of interest in Islam

To charge interest from someone who is forced to borrow to meet his essential consumption requirement is considered as an exploitative practice in Islam. Charging of interest on loans for productive purposes is also prohibited because it is not an equitable form of transaction.

Is Private equity haram? ›

The equity financing of companies is permissible, as long as those companies are not engaged in restricted businesses. Prohibited activities include producing alcohol, gambling, and making pornography.

Do Muslims pay interest? ›

A Muslim is not allowed to benefit from lending money or receiving money from someone. This means that earning interest (riba) is not allowed – whether you are an individual or a bank. To comply with these rules, interest is not paid on Islamic savings or current accounts, or charged on Islamic mortgages.

What is the importance of justice in Islam? ›

Justice is the basic requirement of the law and is important for maintaining order in society. Benevolence means to be kind and forgiving. God states: “God commands justice, benevolence, and giving [of your wealth] to kith and kin, and He forbids indecency, evil, and lawlessness”(Q. 16:90).

Why was an inquiry initiated by Hazrat Muhammad saw while resolving the land dispute? ›

Q. 3 Why was an inquiry initiated by the Hazrat Mohammad (S.A.W) while resolving the land dispute? Ans. The inquiry was initiated by the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) while resolving the land dispute in order to decide the matter with justice and fairness.

How was Holy Prophet an embodiment of justice? ›

Ans: The Holy Prophet proved through action that no other person could be more just than him. Before his prophet hood, the people were convinced of his justice because he was an honest trader and had fair dealing with all the people.

What is the most powerful verse in the Quran? ›

Ayat al-Kursi is regarded as the greatest verse of Quran according to hadith. The verse is regarded as one of the most powerful in the Quran because when it is recited, the greatness of God is believed to be confirmed.

What is Muhammad's famous quote? ›

“Do not wish to be like anyone except in two cases. The first is a person, whom Allah has given wealth & he spends it righteously; (the second is) the one whom Allah has given wisdom (the Holy Quran) and he acts according to it and teaches it to others.” - Prophet Muhammad.

What is the motto of the Islamic? ›

Mottos. The Brotherhood's "most frequently used slogan" (according to the BBC) is "Islam is the Solution" (الإسلام هو الحل). According to academic Khalil Yusuf, its motto "was traditionally" "Believers are but Brothers."

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