For more on this topic, see Gender and Islam


Concerns are often raised about the status of women in Islamic law. Often, misrepresentations and misconceptions about how women are treated by sharīʿah are used to advance the notion that Islam is misogynistic. This paper serves as a primer in examining five common misrepresentations of Islamic law as it relates to women, focusing on domestic abuse, divorce, legal testimony, inheritance law, and polygamy. By delving into the historic and contemporary nature and application of Islamic law, this paper seeks to provide clarity, background, and explanation in these five areas. While many more myths exist, our review of the five most prevalent myths seeks to introduce the reader to nuance and understanding as a counterpoint to common anti-Islamic rhetoric regarding women.


General Principles Concerning Islamic Law and Women

Myth 1: Islam instructs men to beat their wives

Myth 2: Women cannot divorce

Myth 3: A woman’s testimony is worth only half a man’s

Myth 4: Inheritance laws favor men over women

Myth 5: Muslim men oppress women through polygamy