The Shared Responsibility of Men and Women
At times in Islamic thought, certain Qur’ānic verses, clear in their support of gender equality, are marginalized, as revealed in a verse considered the standard that lays the ground for equality: “the believing men and believing women, are protectors [awliyā’] of one another.” Here, awliyā’ embodies the alliance of hearts of men and women, as ordained by God. Despite or perhaps because of its equality significance, the verse has been largely overlooked in the tafāsīr. Outside of a “spiritual” equality, gender equality is considered abnormal: Women cannot aspire to be but men’s subordinates, who embody the Norm, and hence are the rightful possessors of responsibility and power on earth. Accordingly, men and women stand together (united, equal) only in the performance of acts of worship.