I am very shocked at what I am hearing about women in islam especially when it comes to reward and paradise. Honestly, I never in a million years expected any religion to say this let alone Islam, which is making me feel disappointed. For example, when it comes to men, they want many wives they get that in paradise, they want to loyal and virgin’s they get that, they want them to not see anyone better and see the husband as the best thing in paradise they get that. On the other hand, a woman likes to have a loyal husband, to spend most of her time with her husband, and to be loved more than anything be him, yet in Islam in paradise she will not have this at all just because she is a female, rather she will have a very disloyal husband who is never content with her and always wants other women hence she won’t be able to spend most of her time with him. All I get told things are different, but to me this makes absolutely no sense and is a very weak argument because why is the man not told things are different and you won’t have many wives? Why is the woman always the one who os denied her wishes and all she is told you won’t be sad, but you can’t have what you want? When all I am told things are different and a woman won’t be sad to me this is a very weak argument because while a man gets exactly what he desires and more while although a woman won’t be sad but she does not get what she desires. This makes me feel that a woman even in paradise does not get what she desires. I feel very disheartened as neither me or any other female choose to be females rather we are punished for being females although we did not choose it. Does this mean islam cares about gender more than anything when it comes to reward and than a man and a woman who are equal in piety the male is far superior?
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh
We hope this message reaches you in the best health and Iman.
This is a wonderful question that comes in the mind of many Muslims, one that has many fruits in its answer. I will link a paper at the end of this answer, which I have written answering the question of why there are differences in men and women in Islam. The summary is this: men and women differ their biology and hormones, which leads to differences in their anatomy, psychology and physiology, and Allah being All-Just has allocated responsibilities to both men and women according to their differences.
This understanding that these differences in responsibilities are a byproduct of our gender differences, and that all of this comes from Allah’s Justice, is crucial before we delve any further into the answer. Even if we do not find anything convincing in this response, we must have full conviction that what Allah decides is best for us, and that ultimately everyone in Jannah, both men and women, will be happy without any complaints. Who is more knowledgeable than Allah?
If the responsibilities are different, equal and commensurate to the gender differences between men and women, therefore the rewards are different, equal and commensurate to their gender differences.
This leads to a number of responses to this question:
1) In this life, our spouses’ time is limited, which is why we feel jealous or frustrated when they are not spending time with us. In contrast, Jannah has unlimited time, it goes on infinitely, because of that a person will never feel dissatisfied when our spouse is not with us, because the time spent with them will always feel enough.
2) In Jannah, certain things will not occur at all, and thus will not occur in the mind. For example, one cannot wish that someone higher than them in Jannah becomes lower, or that I am able to completely control someone else’s Jannah. Such things will contradict each other and conflict with others’ Jannahs, and therefore will not occur in a person’s mind to commit that act. We also cannot stop someone from fulfilling their desires, trying to interfere with their Jannah. Similarly is the case of jealousy, it does not exist in Jannah, and therefore will not occur in the mind. A woman will not feel that her husband is “disloyal”, and similarly a husband will never force his wife for relations when she is occupied with other things in her Jannah. There are innumerous things to do within Jannah, but none will find any feeling that “I did not get enough” or “I did not do enough.” It will always feel enough.
3) Men desire copious amounts of sexual relations. In Islam, a man is allowed to have up to four wives (of course, abiding by the conditions stipulated in the Quran such as being able to provide financially and physically). Islamically and biologically, a man’s loyalty is not determined by his sexual exclusivity, but by other factors such as providing finances, time, and a home. Polygamy accommodates a man’s needs for sexual gratification, which is generally higher than a woman’s (This is not to say women do not have needs, Islamically it is her right that he fulfill as well, it is more that he has more frequent encounters that a woman may not necessarily be able to cover). In this world, a husband must be patient with his spouse(s), but in Jannah, a man can therefore satisfy his desires freely.
In the premodern world, men married more. The Prophets had multiple wives. These are facts. We cannot say that the Prophets were being disloyal, or that these women were being “betrayed”. Rather, although they may have had certain feelings about each co-wife, they knew their husband had given them what they needed and were happy with their husbands. There are many beautiful stories about polygamy that I would encourage the sister to read about which will remove our ill feelings about this practice, as it is in Islam. What Allah does for us in Jannah is remove all ill feelings and jealousy, such that a person is completely content and bears no ill will towards anyone.
This naivety about men’s desires and needs leads us to be blindsided many times by our husbands and children. Our boys go to school and experience a rush of hormones, always holding himself back but too scared to speak about it with his parents. Husbands might find themselves in need of relations, but during a woman’s menstrual cycle he finds himself completely restrained from something described as a biological need. We have to be completely honest with the system, or else we create false realities which will harm us and not help us.
All of this is to say that although we might find it strange that women can be ok with their husbands having multiple spouses in modern times, women across human history had no issue with it, and it was normal. Perhaps we are the abnormal ones, not the generations of women coming before us.
4) The love of her husband will be exclusively hers. A sister will find themselves to be the most beautiful of women in her Jannah. She will attract all eyes when she is in the room, and all other Hur will find her to be the most attractive. Everyone knows she is the Queen, and she knows it herself. Some narrations speak of her being 70 times more beautiful than the Hur. She commands them and rules over all other women in her Jannah. Many women desire to be the center of attention, and she will receive that and more. When a woman has been gifted this much, why would the husband ever find reason to go to other women? Perhaps Allah has put these Hur in her Jannah so that she can see how much her husband prefers her over these women. Thus, both of their desires meet at one place, and “Allah has power over everything.”
Sisters should recognize that while they may not understand what men want, men do not understand the desires of women completely either. For a sister to want to spend a certain amount of time with children, or for her to purchase items for show, or to be the one that everyone envies, many of these desires elude men. But Allah understands all of our needs even if the other gender does not understand, and likewise how men will be content in whatever way his wife spends her time in her Jannah according to her desires, women will also be content.
In short, both men and women have separate responsibilities in this life and rewards in the Hereafter. They are commensurate with the desires they have, and it is not that one gender is superior to the other, it is simply that they are different. Any disgust or bad feelings we have towards them fulfilling their desires is lifted, and there is enough time and space in Jannah for everyone to feel completely satisfied. It is not that a woman is “denied” her wishes, but that her wishes infringes on the wishes of another believer in Jannah, and similarly how a man cannot force his wife to not fulfill her desires and will not want it, a woman cannot do the same. Even though we may not understand, and Jannah itself in reality is beyond comprehension. A lot of things will not be understood until we get there. Ultimately, Allah understands us and promises He will make us happy, and if none of this is sufficient, we can rely on Allah that has kept women happy for centuries, especially the Mothers of the Believers, and He will make us happy if we walk the same path as them. Allah keep our hearts firm, and open our hearts completely to Islam. Allah knows best.