We usually think that women in Islam have no rights or status. In reality, Islam, before any society, was the first to grant women rights. Islam is progressive in its thinking compared to the society of the time from which it came. Islam grants women, as it does men, fundamental rights to life, property, and opinion, and has done so for more than 14 centuries.
Since men and women have been created from one origin and one entity, neither of them can claim superiority over each other. They have been created from the same source and so their essence is the same. This is reinforced in the Qur’an many times to ensure humankind is aware that both are equal in the eyes of God.
So I did a little research and it surprised me how easy it was to find women in my faith, in Islam, who were innovative and strong in many ways. Politically, in education and even in military. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for any of those women. So why aren’t we learning about these women and the role of women in Islam?
Islam was the first religion and society to grant women such rights and gave them the power to maintain their identity in the early 7th century. Whether a woman is a mother, wife, sister or daughter, she receives a certain share of her deceased relative’s property depending on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. While many societies around the world denied women inheritance, Islam assured women this right.
It is a myth that Islam does not allow Muslim women to have a professional career. The Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) first wife, Khadija (May Allah swt be pleased with her), was a very successful and esteemed business woman in Arabia in the 6th century. She was delicate, intelligent and sharp. Her business was larger than all of the Quraysh trades combined and the most acclaimed with a reputation of fair-dealing and high-quality goods.
The first instruction in the Qur’an was, not to pray or fast or to give Zakat, but to read. This instruction was to both male and female.
The first and foremost example is that of Aisha (May Allah swt be pleased with her), the wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She had profound knowledge of medicine and even guided Sahabah who sought her advice on different matters. After the death of prophet, men and women would travel to learn from her because she was considered as a great scholar of Islam. She was among the great hafiz (memorizers) of Hadith and had narrated 2210 Hadith in all.
Among the early Muslims, women were active participants in the unified functioning of the society. Women expressed their opinions freely and their opinions were actively sought. During the battles, women nursed the wounded and some even participated in the battlefield. One of the most distinguished women who took part in the battle of Uhud, if not the most distinguished of them, was Nusaybah bint Ka’ab al-Maziniyyah, Umm ‘Umarah (May Allah swt be pleased with her). She’s the first woman warrior of Islam.
At the beginning of the battle, she was bringing water and tending the wounded, as the other women were doing.
When the battle was going in favour of the Muslims, the archers disobeyed the command of the Prophet (pbuh), and this turned the victory into defeat, as the Qur’aan described it.
At this point, Nusaybah went forward, with her sword unsheathed and her bow in her hand, to join the small group who were standing firm with the Prophet, acting as a human shield to protect him from the arrows of the non-believers. Every time danger approached the Prophet she hastened to protect him. Subhaanallah!
In Islam, the woman has a noble and significant task entrusted to her by Allah Almighty, childbearing and motherhood. Not to mention the status of a woman is such a high status that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated “Paradise lies at the feet of the mother.”
Islam also sees the birth of a baby girl as a blessing as opposed to a burden.
In Arabia, before the advent of Islam, the birth of a female child was regarded as a great misfortune and a shame, and cruel fathers buried them alive. Unfortunately similar sentiments still exist in some parts of the Asian sub-continent.
Often non-Muslim commentators equate this practice with Islamic values and practices but in reality, there is only condemnation for any such behavior.
Islam sees the birth of a girl as a time to rejoice and in celebration of womanhood and those who teaches them good manners and morals, and arranges their marriages and treat their daughters kindly with respect are guaranteed paradise
As a young Muslim woman, I’m very proud of my faith. But I can’t overlook the damage that has been done in the name of religion. The misrepresentation, misuse, and manipulation of religious scripture has influenced our daily lives. The widespread misconception in the West is that women have no rights in Islam and are nothing but mere objects. Sadly, there is lack of awareness within some Muslim communities, as well.
Yes! It’s true that there are many Muslim countries that seemingly oppress women, and the blame is placed on the religion of Islam. However, we, as a progressive and educated society, need to understand that such faults lie with the humans and not the religion.
I cannot even come close to covering all stories in regards to specific rights for women mentioned in the Qur’aan in one article. There are plenty of them out there.
Guys! I hope that reading this will be as useful for you, as writing it was for me.
Do leave your opinions in the comments. I’ll see y’all in my next post. 😌