The status of a woman in Islam has been highly misunderstood and this misunderstanding has grown rapidly amid media controversies. However, despite the stereotypical news the media portrays, it is untrue and hurtful to a Muslim to say that a husband has more dominance and power over his wife and that women are treated worse than slaves. It may be unbelievable, but the western world has only just realized how to treat women and what their rights’ are.
This system was introduced in the Muslim world over 1400 years ago and is still a rule which every Muslim follows happily.
Islam has provided clear guidance for a peaceful society for humanity to enjoy together. Islam has also introduced equal rights, which a society must inculcate in order to benefit from a positive social system thus allowing them to have respect for each other.
It was Islam which first introduced a system which provided a balance for a man and woman. This society was created 1400 years ago due to an order given by Allah to the Holy Prophet (saw) and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) stressed upon this subject a lot.
PRE-ISLAMIC TREATMENT TO WOMEN AND WHAT CHANGE ISLAM BROUGHT
It is incumbent to understand the life of a woman before Islam before speaking on this issue. In Arabia and the rest of the world, women were treated as slaves and their conditions were unimaginable. They were forbidden to inherit property, they had no right to speak in domestic affairs, furthermore, they had no rights upon their children or themselves. In fact, the situation was so appalling that they could be sold or abandoned by their husbands without any reasons. If they were insulted or abused by their husbands, they were not able to recourse to divorce. Their status was null and worse, they were being treated as dirt and they were often killed at birth. They were regarded as dirt of their society and they were restricted to progress in any way.
This system of injustice existed in the 19th century as well, in many parts of the world, even in economically grown US. The rights to women only begun in the early 20th century, but in Arabic, in the 6th century, these rights were being enjoyed by women of Islam. In the Holy Quran, Allah the Almighty stated that: “He has created you from a single being; then of the same kind made its mate.” This verse removes any doubt of inferiority of women. Being created from one source, makes it obvious that women should be allowed to live like men and because they are created from the same strength and being, they should not be treated as subordinates but with kindness and love.
THE SPIRITUAL STATUS OF A MUSLIM WOMAN AS DECLARED IN THE HOLY QURAN AND AHADITH
The fundamental change that Islam brought was that it raised the spiritual status of a woman. It granted her the ability to progress and to be treated as a worthwhile living. Allah the Almighty says in the Holy Quran that a woman too has a soul, that she has the same spiritual capacity to that of a man and that she too can attain equal spiritual rewards which have been vouchsafed to a true believer. The Holy Quran says:
“But whoso does good works, whether male or female, and is a believer, such shall enter heaven…”
The Holy Quran is probably the only holy scripture that has repeatedly emphasized the need of respecting women and the reward for those who do. It leaves no doubt in regards to this matter as it says:
“Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obedient men and the obedient women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their chastity and the women who guard their chastity, and the men who praise God and the women who praise God, Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a mighty reward.”
THE WEALTH AND ECONOMICAL STATE OF A WOMAN
Islam also allowed women to have economic freedom, it allowed women to possess land and to inherit properties. Again, in this matter the Holy Quran states:
“Men shall have the share of what they have earned, and women shall have the share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of His bounty. Surely, Allah has perfect knowledge of all things.”
This verse illustrates that women are on the same level of men and that women have the right to manage their own wealth. Islam has thought about the respect and care of women intensely. A married woman does not have to spend out of her own wealth, however it is the duty of the husband to provide for her.
These principles which Islam taught 1400 years ago, have just been introduced by the western society yet Islam is abused and taunted on for being criminals to women.
Nonetheless, the Holy Qur’an states that:
“…men are guardians over women, because Allah made some of them excel others and because they spend of their wealth”
This means that the husband is responsible for his wife’s needs and her protection, and he is entitled to supply for her economically and in any other way necessary.
Moreover, Islam has given the right to a woman to inherit from her deceased. The Holy Qur’an makes it very clear, It says:
“For men there is a share of that which parents and near relatives leave, and for women there is a share of that which parents and near relatives leave, whether it be a little or much — a determined share.”
THE SOCIAL STATUS OF MUSLIM WOMEN
Islam brought with it a great revolution of change. The social status and rights of a woman changed dramatically with the advent of Islam. Societies were given clear guidance through the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (saw) thus allowing great changes to take place and letting women live in a great change.
Daughters were given the honor of being a father’s light and delight whereas they were killed upon birth. The Holy Quran did not applaud this act and Allah said:
“…Slay not your children for fear of poverty, it is We who provide for you and for them, and approach not foul deeds, whether open or secret…”
“… He creates what He pleases, He bestows daughters upon whom He pleases, and He bestows sons on whom He pleases.”
After forbidding the act, Islam then went on to tell fathers that they must raise their daughters as they raise their son. Islam taught them to focus on daughters too, to take care of them and to allow them to progress intellectually. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said:
“He who brings up two girls through their childhood will appear on the Day of Judgement attached to me like two fingers of a hand.” (Muslim)
Therefore, it is evident that Islam raised the status of a daughter from being unwanted and neglected to being loved and adored..
Islam also taught a husband the status of a wife. Islam changed the concept of thinking that a wife was a servant to her husband. The Holy Quran makes it clear that in marriages women too have rights. It says:
“Of His signs is that He created mates for you of your own kind that you may find peace of mind through them, and He has put love and tenderness between you. In that surely are signs for a people that reflect.”
Whereas marriage was a process used by man to create off-springs of brave soldiers Islam taught man that marriage is a harmonious union of two souls, where two souls seek comfort from each other. The Holy Qur’an gloriously defines the equality of the relationship with this verse:
“..They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them.”
This verse illustrates once again that a husband and wife are equal in providing support and both have an equal say. Islam also commanded men to treat their wives with respect, kindness and generosity. It gave women a voice regardless of what status of position they carried.
Consequently, Islam also gave huge respect to a mother, Muslim woman achieves her highest status when becoming a mother. The Holy Quran has repeatedly directed Muslims to care for their parents, especially their mothers. Allah says:
“And We have enjoined man to be good to his parents; his mother bears him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years….”
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) laid great emphasis on this matter and said:
“Paradise lies at the feet of the mother.”
In another hadith, the Holy Prophet (saw) told one of his companions that a mother should be loved and respected 3 times before saying that after the father should be respected and loved. Islam has laid great emphasis on a woman, how well she should be loved, how she should be respected, and how Allah loved those who treat their women with love and respect.
In conclusion, a Muslim woman does not grow arrogant knowing her status, rather bows down and fulfills her obligations towards Allah. However, Islam has granted women the status that the western world has only understood recently. Islam has allowed women to live without any pressure and insult. This is the reason why many women joined the fold of Islam in the time of the Holy Prophet (saw), only because they saw the love and respect that the Holy Prophet (saw) and Islam had for them. Woman in Islam are promoted and supported to seek further education for her benefit, so that she could live with ease.
Some Muslim countries have made scratches on the name of Islam due to their ill-behavior towards women, but unfortunately they do not realize that what they are practicing is not Islam but their own disgraceful laws. Islam has never commanded for a woman to be ignored or be treated unfairly. This may be a political move but Islam has never supported it.
Islam means peace, and it fully supports its meaning.
Islam has allowed women to live freely and happily and without Islam the world might still have been stuck in the pre-6th century, desperate for a universal guide.