The first person to embrace Islam was a woman: Hazrat Khadija (RA)
The greatest scholar of Islam was a woman: Hazrat Aisha (RA)
The person who was Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) most beloved was a woman: Hazrat Fatima (RA)
Oppressed, persecution, inferior – for many people, words like these often come to mind when talking about women in Islam. These are nothing but misconceptions and stereotypes spread across regarding Islam. In reality, these typecasts are due to false cultural practices and unjust spread of information. What people fail to realize that Islam is the only religion who has legitimize role of women in the society and provided them with their rights.
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), people of Arab were ignorant as there was no law in the land. Women had no right, no protection, was considered as transferable property, even the right of life was not guaranteed. Many girls were killed at the time of their birth, and some were buried alive at the time of famine. Islam raised the stature of women by giving them the right to education, to marry someone of their choice, to retain their identity after marriage, to divorce, to work, to own and sell property, to seek protection by the law, to vote, and to participate in civic, social and political engagement.
Islam taught that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah, both are promised the same reward for their good deeds and same punishment for their bad deeds. In our Holy Quran, whole Surah An-Nisa has numerous references to women and their various rights.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) Treatment of Women
Prophet (PBUH) said:
“Heaven lies beneath the feet of mothers.”
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) led his life as an inspiration for all mankind. He gave women the respect they deserve and told his followers to do the same. Muhammad (PBUH) first got married at the age of 25 to his first wife Khadija, who was a 40-year-old widow. Hazrat Khadijah (RA) was the first-person Muhammad spoke to about his initial, terrifying experience of revelation. She consoled him and became the first convert to Islam. In his lifetime Prophet (PBUH) married several women, mostly to provide shelter to them and to normalize such behaviour for his Muslim Ummah. Prophet (PBUH) had 3 sons and 4 daughters, and he loved them all dearly and equally. He (PBUH) always treated women with respect and kindness, and said this on multiple occasion that on the day of judgement you will be questioned for your treatment with women.
For the women in Islam, there are clear guidelines under the teaching of Quran and Hadiths. Furthermore, with the passage of time, there was need of much more detailed account of some issues for which we have secondary sources which are ijma, qiyas, ijtihad and others depending on sect and the school of Islamic law.
Following we will overview some issues regarding women’s right in Islam
Education of Women in Islam
Quran and sunnah encourages both men and women to seek knowledge. Islam teaches us the pursuit of knowledge, to ask question and look for its answers and see sign of Allah’s in nature. Prophet (PBUH) himself preached both men and women, so at the time of his passing there were many female scholars of Islam. One of the wives of Prophet (PBUH), Hazrat Aisha (RA), taught both men and women. In the absence of Holy Prophet (PBUH), it was recommended that if religious questions arose, people should take them to his wife Hazrat Aisha (RA). There is no restriction implied on women, they are considered free to choose any field of education that interests her. The recognition of female scholarship and women’s participation in academia has been encouraged and practiced throughout the majority of Islamic history.
Marriage and Divorce
Islam gives women full authority to choose their spouse with their own free will. They, under no circumstances, be forced to marry someone they do not approve. By the same principle, women also have the right to seek divorce if they are unhappy or their rights are not fully met. In Islam marriage is based on mutual love and compassion between two individuals.
Some people have this misconception that women in Islam are not allowed to earn by themselves, which is not true at all. The biggest example we have is the wife of Prophet (PBUH), Hazrat Khadijah (RA), who was quite a successful business woman of that time. Women has the right to earn and spend her money as she likes without any obligation. If a woman is married, her husband must fully support her financially and if she’s not married, that responsibility belongs to her closest male relative.
Inheritance of Women in Islam
Before the advent of Islam women had no right to inheritance and was considered themselves as property. It was Islam that gave women the right to buy and sell property and to inherit from relatives. Now there are clear guidelines for the inheritance of women depending on their relation to the deceased as a mother, daughter, sister or wife.
Political and Social Involvement
Women are free to voice their opinion regarding any topic, there say has importance. Women are encouraged to actively participate for the proper functioning of a society. In Islamic history, women participated in government, public affairs, lawmaking, scholarship, and teaching. To continue to uphold this tradition, women are encouraged to actively participate in improving, serving, and leading the different aspects of the community.
Protection of Women in Islam
Islam condones ill treatment of women. It gives the women a high stature and respect. Any form of emotional, physical, or psychological abuse or oppression is prohibited. It is stated again and again that you will be punished severely if any kind of harm is done to women by you.
Islam has provided us with an enlightened path and as Muslims it is our duty that we strive to follow it. That includes advocating and working for the millions of women, who are still victims of systematic oppression and violence. All of God’s creation is dignified and protected under Islamic law.