Religion Magazine

Status of Women in Islam

By Azharnadeem

Islamic womenPrior to Islam, a woman’s status in the sight of all nations of the world was nothing more than the value of household goods. They were treated like animals. They were bought and sold. They had no civil rights. They had no real status in the society, not being respected as wife, mother or daughter.  In fact, daughters were considered worthless and were often killed at birth.  Women were given little or no education, and had no say in religious matters, being regarded as limited in spirituality and intellect. During the Roman civilization, for example, a woman was regarded as a slave. The Greeks considered her a commodity to be bought and sold. Early Christianity regarded women as temptresses, responsible for the fall of Adam. The Hindus until recently considered their women worse than death, pests, serpents or even hell. A wife’s life ended with the death of her husband. In the past, she had to jump into the flames of her husband’s cremation to fire herself.

Islam is a religion of common sense and is in line with human nature. It recognizes the realities of life. Islam gave honours to woman greatly. Some 1400 years ago, the Muslim woman was given a role, duties, and rights that most women do not enjoy even today in the west. Islam made women aware of their rights and gave them an identity, a personality, freedom, and independence. Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) enforced justice, making it obligatory for men to fulfill the rights of women; Just as it is necessary for them to fulfill the right of men. He freed women from the slavery of man. A woman was granted the ownership of her life and property. Thus, no man, not even a father or a grand father could force a mature woman to marry against her wishes and desires, nor without her consent.

Islam also strictly prohibited violence in any form, especially violence against women. In the Islamic law and tradition, a woman is equal to man and is entitled to work and earn money, own personal property without male guardianship, and the right to divorce. Yet, the religion which revolutionized the status of women is today being portrayed as repressive to women. This myth is perpetuated by the media; it is very unfortunate there are examples from my own country and elsewhere, women’s inherent Islamic rights are being abrogated. For a dedicated Muslim, be it a male or a female, the ultimate goal is to seek the pleasure of Allah and to fulfill our duties on earth as his trustees and not to satisfy one’s own ego or to gain fame.

According to Islam, being a human, woman is even superior to angels and all other living organisms. In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women as far as their relationship to God is concerned, as both are promised the same reward for good conduct and the same punishment for evil conduct. The shari’a (Islamic Law) regards women as the spiritual and intellectual equals of men. The main distinction it makes between them is in the physical realm based on the equitable principle of fair division of labor. Woman is recognized by Islam as equal partner in the procreation of humankind. Islam goes on to teach a father that he must raise his daughters in the same way as his sons.  the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood, he and I will come like this on the Day of Resurrection,” and he held his fingers together. In fact, taking good care of a daughter opens the door to Paradise for a Muslim.   So, fourteen centuries ago, Islam made men and women equally accountable to God in glorifying and worshiping Him – setting no limits on her spiritual progress. In the Qur’an in the first verse of the chapter entitled “Women”, God says:

“O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it its mate and from them both have spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom you claim (your rights) of one another, and towards the wombs (that bore you). Lo! Allah has been a Watcher over you.” (4:1)

In His farewell speech at Arafah Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was also most emphatic in enjoining upon Muslims, to be kind to their women. This was in the presence of one hundred and twenty-four thousand of his Companions. who had gathered there for hajj- tull-wida’ (farewell pilgrimage) when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, ” O people, your wives have certain rights over you and you have certain rights over them. Treat them well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers.” The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also said, ” The best among you is the one who is best towards his wife.” These sayings clearly prove the important position given to women in Islam.

Pleasing one’s mother is regarded as part of pleasing Allah. Mothers, in Islam, are accorded a special place of honor. Islam tells us that Paradise lies at the mother’s feet, i.e. that the best way to reach Paradise is through one’s mother. A man came to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and said:

O Messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, Your mother. The man said then who else: The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, Your mother. The man asked, Then who else? Only then did the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, Your father. (Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Some Muslim societies today lack those values.  However Islam is a rule and order. A Muslim who does not act according to that rule and order then by all means it is not Islam that should carry the blame, rather that Muslim is to be blamed. Finally, I would say that it is only Allah Almighty who has all Knowledge. Any good is from Allah and the mistakes are from myself. Please pray for me and ask Allah to forgive me. May Allah always guide us, all, to His truth, Ameen!.

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