No. The Qur'an speaks to both man as well as to woman concerning their duties and rights. 'Divorced women shall wait concerning themselves for three monthly periods. And it is not lawful for them to hide what Allah hath created in their wombs, if they have faith in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands have the better right to take them back in that period, if they wish for reconciliation. And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree over them and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.' (Qur'an 2:28). This is the clear and unambiguous statement of the Qur'an. How then can it be said that the Qur'an, which contains this declaration is the creation of a patriarchial system? In reality, there is no other religious text, like the Qur'an, which deals with the rights of the woman in so clear and exhaustive a manner.
If the impact of the rights which the Qur'an allowed - nay, achieved - for the woman is to be fully appreciated, the position of the woman during the time of its revelation must first be understood. Greek philosophers considered woman to be the very personification of the devil. The Roman law was such that it granted complete freedom for the male to even murder his wife. The Indian woman was given the religious advise to immolate herself at the funeral pyre of her husband. The attitude of the Jews towards the woman, the cause of sin, was most cruel. No better was the case of Christianity which followed in the footsteps of the Jewish religion. Even as late as the 16th century, the subject of discussion amongst the church fathers was the question as to whether or not woman did possess a soul. As for the Arabia before Prophet Muhammad (e), the condition of the woman there was even worser off. She was not even allowed to have the right to live. It was a society which was ever ready to bury alive the infant if it was a female. It was in such a social context that the Qur'an first began to speak on the rights of woman.
The rights accorded to woman by the Qur'an may be summarized as follows :
1. The right to live. The Arabs were a people who, on knowing that one's wife had delivered a female child, contemplated killing it (Qur'an 16:59). The moral level of contemporary society, which, through modern technological devices, identifies the sex of the embryo and on learning that the child to be born is a female, one resorts to killing it in its embryonic stage itself, is hardly above that of the Arabs of primitive times. The Qur'an criticizes that narrow- mindedness which would not permit the girl child to live. (Qur'an 16:59, 81:9). It declares that like man, she, too, has the right to birth and to life.
2. The right to own property : The Qur'an has given the woman, like the man, the right to earn wealth. The view of the Qur'an is that all her earnings, whether it be through her personal efforts or by way of inheritance, belongs to her and to her alone. None, not even the husband, has the right to take anything, whatsoever, of her earnings without her explicit permission. 'And in no wise covet those things in which Allah hath bestowed His gifts more freely on some of you than on others: to men is allotted what they earn; But ask Allah of His bounty. For Allah hath full knowledge of all things.' (Qur'an 4:32)
3. The right to inheritance : It is the Qur'anic recommendation that daughters, too, have a share in the wealth of their parents. In reality, no other religious scripture has declared the right to inheritance of the woman. Even in Europe, which boasts to be very civilized, the right to inheritance for women was recognized and put into effect only since the last couple of centuries. The Qur'an had, however, declared and brought into effect the law fourteen centuries ago that women had the right to inheritance. 'From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or large - a determinate share.' (Qur'an 4:7)
4. The right to choose a mate : Islam recommends that while putting forth marriage proposals, the likes and dislikes of the woman must be seriously considered. None, not even the father, has the right to marry off his daughter to a person whom she dislikes. Prophet Muhammad(e) had said, 'The widow is not to be given in marriage without her consent. The virgin is not to be given in marriage without consulting her for her acceptance. Her silence constitutes her acceptance'' (Bukhari, Muslim)
5. The right to education and free thought: The Qur'an's view is that women have the right to education and free thought. This view is, however, not restricted to mere advice. The Prophet had practically demonstrated this. The great yearning for knowledge exhibited by the woman who followed the Prophet is universally acknowledged. For it can be seen from the history of the times that women used to always approach the Prophet and his wives to acquire knowledge. Indeed it is seen in the hadith reported by Imam Bukhari that the Prophet had set aside one day for his discussions with them.
6. The right to criticize: Islam provides the woman with the right to criticize and question. The incident wherein quoting from the Qur'an a woman once criticizes the Caliph Umar when he prepared to control the value of Mehr as men were finding it difficult to pay their due to the constant increase in its value and wherein he corrected himself saying: 'Everybody - even an old woman - knows better than Umar.'' (Muslim), is quite well-known.
The first verses of Surah Mujadilah (Those who question) were revealed in response to the questions put by a woman companion who argued with the Prophet concerning the traditions of lihaar which prevailed during the time of Jahiliyyah. This makes it quite clear that even women were permitted to discuss matters freely with the Prophet when it came to the issue of their rights. It is especially relevant that at no point in these verses has the argument raised by the woman been frowned upon.
7. The right to take part in social activities: Although it is only natural that men take part in politics, Islam has granted the freedom to participate in matters pertaining to the nation to the woman also. Islam, however, does not compel women to take part directly in the campaigns for freedom of belief. But Muslim women did take part in helping out those who were fighting in the field of battle. History does give us accounts of woman-companions of the Prophet who proceeded to the battlefield accompanying the men, prepared food for them, distributed water and nursed the wounded. There has been in Islamic history even those precious few who, under dire circumstances, went with the men to very thick of the action on the battle field. Indeed, it was Ayesha, the Prophet's wife, who led her side in the Battle of the Camel which transpired as a result of the contention , and the opposition to it, that Ali was not to be elected as Caliph until the assassins of Caliph Usman were apprehended and punished.
8. The right to dower: It is the right of the woman being married to recieve Mehr. The woman has the right to demand the Mehr of her choice through her guardian. It is the duty of the man to give this dower. The dower which is given to her is then considered as the wealth of the woman. None can take from it except with her permission. 'And give the women (on marriage) their dower as an obligation; but if they, of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right good cheer.' (H.Q. 4:4) - this is the commandment of the Qur'an.
9. The right to divorce: The woman has the right to get a divorce under circumstances wherein she becomes unable to live with her husband. The divorce from the woman's side is referred to by the two terms Khul'a and Fasq. The first is the divorce wherein the dower is also to be returned while the second is the one in which it is not returned. In any event, Islam does not force the woman to live with a husband whom she does not like. Under compelling circumstances, she can recieve a divorce.