Home Quranet Chapter 3 Is it permissible for a teacher to discriminate against girls?
Is it permissible for a teacher to discriminate against girls?
Chapter 3

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا (سورۃ النساء, آيۃ 1)

O people, observe your Lord; the One who created you from one being, and created from it its mate, then spread from the two many men and women. You shall regard GOD, by whom you swear, and regard the parents. GOD is watching over you. (Sura, Women, Verse 1)

Menar, an industrious and well-mannered tenth-grade student arrived at the school counselor's office. She spoke softly and the counselor found it difficult to understand what she was saying.
Counselor: Menar, please speak louder. I can't understand a single word.
Menar: I'm scared to talk. I want help and I want everything I say to remain a secret between us.
Counselor: Menar, this is my obligation as a counselor to every student in the school.
Menar: I'm still scared.
Counselor: What do you feel?
Menar: Even when I'm not speaking, I feel I'm chocking. I'm a very good student, but I feel miserable in my class. It's not only me, it's all us seven girls. The teacher doesn't treat us with respect. He ignores us, even though we are quieter than the boys and also better students. He is very strict with us, and we feel as if we are not part of the class.
Counselor: Why didn't the other girls come with you?
Menar: They are frightened. They sent me instead of them, and if you agree they will come as well.
Counselor: I'll speak to them.
Menar: I'm scared that you will insult the teacher and that he'll take revenge on us through our grades. That is why we are keeping quiet.
Counselor: Don't worry. I have my ways of speaking to him.

The counselor decided not to involve other people. She prepared a lecture, which she gave to the class in the presence of the above teacher. The subject of the lecture was "The status of women in the religion". The counselor began her lecture by reading from the Quran: "O people, observe your Lord; the One who created you from one being, and created from it its mate, then spread from the two many men and women." She asked the students how they understand this verse, and a discussion developed on the importance of relating equally and with respect to girls and boys in the class and in the family. The counselor read them other verses from the Sura 'Women' that regard the woman with respect and defend her rights. The counselor thus managed to convey the important message to the teacher and the students, without any confrontation with the teachers, the parents or the principal.

Explanation: Menar's story is not unique. Many girls suffer from discrimination in class. Many girls are also discriminated against at home in favor of their brothers. These attitudes cause girls to be less ambitious and to invest less in developing their capabilities. They say to themselves that ultimately no one will appreciate their efforts, and sometimes even the opposite: their learning success will be used against them. God granted many girls ability in order for them to use it, each in her own area, for the benefit of their family and their society. Sometimes, however, this ability is wasted and no one appreciates it. Every parent and teacher is thus obliged to encourage the girls, no less than the boys, to succeed in their studies. Sometimes they even need extra encouragement, because they come from families and from backgrounds that don't encourage studying. In these cases, the teacher should help them to realize their inherent potential. The counselor did the right thing by not entering into a confrontation with the environment on such a sensitive subject, but rather found a way to make use of the Holy Quran to transmit this important message. Again it needs mentioning that a strong woman makes a strong man, strong children and a strong family.