Islam and Women (1989)
Islam is the second largest religion in the world and according to the reports Islam will be the largest religion by 2070. It is also the most criticized one and being accused for baring terrorism and extremists. Although, these are all myth. In reality Islam is a religion of teaching and preaching the peace within and toward another religion. But, in many cases, some non-Muslims look in at Muslims as they are being oppressed by their religion and don’t have many rights particularly Muslim women.
In many cases, most outsiders look at Muslims women as they are living under oppressive Islamic society and being ruled by their father and husbands and are forced to cover their head by a veil, although covering head by veil is completely a woman’s choice, in Islam women who are embracing hijab in order to content with her faith in Islam. They also determine that all Muslim women are forced into marriage and the only reason to get married is to get engaged in domestic works, and has no right to give an opinion on matters and cannot take stand for them, which is not true, for a man getting married is to complete half of his deen. Women are not just marrying for doing domestic work, but to make a house a home and to confront all the hardship, difficulties and circumstances with her companion. For outsiders, it is also a misunderstanding that in Islam polygamy is strongly recommended which indignities the woman, but in reality polygamy was a way of life before the revelation of Islam. Polygamy has not been advocating by Islam as a strong aspect of faith but it has some limits.
Just by looking at most non-Muslims think that Muslim women cannot have jobs outside their homes and are not allowed to acquire education because their first and last priority is home and cannot get out home without the permission of their father, brother and husband. This also is not true. For a woman, her house is her first priority but there is no prohibition of woman having to work and earn their living. The privilege to earn money, the right to own property, to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets has been given to a Muslim woman. When it comes to pursuing education, then Islam is the only religion that makes encourages pursuing education regardless of any gender. It constantly commands its believers to read, to, write, to think and to learn the signs of Allah from nature. Islam has never prohibited anyone from acquiring education as the first revelation on Prophet Muhammad S.A.W was to read.
It has always been a concerned after all these misconceptions that men have higher status than women in Islam as they are being kind of rule by men in Islamic society. It is also discerned that Muslim women have less rights than men in Islam. Whereas, in reality Islam holds a higher status of women in the highest regard in every phase of her life. Women should be treated with honor and respect by man in all circumstances. Islam is also against honor killing. Also, a Muslim woman also has the authority to voice her opinions.
Although, most misconceptions about Islam and Muslim women are embed by some extremists, those who only have limited knowledge about Islam by some exceptional culture and traditions. Most of these ideas are customary and are ingrained from culture.
Islam was revealed at a time when a lot of people denied the humanity of women. The state of affair of the woman improved with the arrival of Islam. The arose status of a woman restored with the teachings of Islam. It’s a fact that women comprise half of the population, a position that a woman holds in general can become a source of influence that exceed the number. Hafiz Ibrahim the poet, he described the women as a whole school and the sound management of which leads to the production of noble society. Different professionals have and still showing their concern about women because a woman is the influence and a greater impact on a person.
In God’s sight both men and women are equal in moral values and are also expected to fulfill the same duties as worship, prayer, faith, fasting and pilgrimage to Mecca. At the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) women’s consideration were also concerned and Muhammad (SAW) always consulted and weighed women’s opinion seriously. Woman role is essential not only in family but religion and society. The woman is an important element in the journey to make human a human being.
Islam is no doubt is the most civilized way of life, it’s not just a religion, but also a code of life, Islam gives full liberty to women to contribute her efforts to make a world better place to live. Women in pre modern history of the Muslim world had played a significant role as thinkers, merchants, poets, philosophers and as educated women in general. Many accomplishments are also being made by contemporary Muslim women. In history some Muslim female personality had dispel some those problematic stereotypes which were not letting women’s status to rise above.
Khajida Binte Khuwaylid is one of the most important personalities in Islam’s history. Before getting married to Muhammad (SAW) she was an important figure in the elite of Mecca and was a successful businesswoman of that time. Hazrat Khadija (r.a) enlightened the fact that a Muslim woman can work and be independent.
Lubna of Cordoba who was a slave girl in Umayyad palace, and was the palace secretary of the caliph ‘Abd al-Rahm?n III. She was proficient in mathematics and was a skilled poet.
Daughter of Shams Iltutmish, Razia Sultan had ruled the Delhi Sultanate between 1236 and 1240. During her reign, she established schools and libraries in northern India. As she was Sultan of that time Razia Sultana also led armies.
Sophisticated and educated Muslim women figures can be found in history and in the contemporary world as well.
Before Islam, women have been treated as slaves and didn’t have rights. With the revelation of Islam Women got rights as equal as men. Now they have rights to acquire education. They have rights in the inheritance. Islam gives women to get married according to their will and they also have the right to get divorced from their husbands. Muslim women have right to contradict. They have the right to express their ideas and opinions.
From birth till death, there is a man who fulfills women’s financial need before marriage, it’s her father and after marriage, it’s her husband.
Islam doesn’t give any permission to man to harm a woman, it is considered as haram in Islam to abuse a woman physically or emotionally.
In Islam man and woman are considered as equal. Men and women are not contemplating to compete, but their roles in the society are complimentary. These complimentary roles are given to them according to their nature. However, the responsibilities and rights of both man and woman are clearly defined.
Islam gives vigorous social rights to women, which make them the influence of the society. As most societies are male dominating, but woman still has the strongest impact on society and its institutions. Woman’s influence can make an impact on every aspect of life as mother, daughter, sister, and wife and as working lady.
While raising a child a mother can influence him. A woman who is a mother can be aware of weakness and failure of a child and can help a child to overcome. Mother and family are the first informal school for a child. Islam gives mother is an important figure and should be loved. A mother carries a higher honor than father. The Importance of a mother can be judged by that the heaven lies under the feet of the mother.
When a woman is a daughter, she opens doors of heaven for their parents. Women are honored when they become someone’s daughter. Islam encourages daughter and those who happily accept daughter by the will of their Lord. Before Islam daughter were buried alive. With the advent of Islam, daughters consider as a precious present for parents. According to Islam a one should educate their daughter and sister (if they are not married) and fulfill their all need, and when it comes to her marriage ask them first, as they have full right to express their opinion.
When a woman gets married and becomes someone’s wife she completed half of her husband’s deen. According to the Islamic principles wife has been made an incharge of her husband’s need and if they have children they should raise them together decently. The wife should also take care of the household, she has the right to spend her husband’s money for necessities. The husband should be kind towards his wife and treat her well and both husband and wife should not order each other to do something that is against Islam. Both should make a good environment where they both can live and raised their children, according to the Islamic teachings and principles.
Islam also gives full liberty to woman to participate in political activities. Women can also take part in law making and can advocate. They can also hold any position of leadership. In history there were notable women personalities, those who took part in battlefield to defend Islam. Some of them famous women were Nasiba binte Kaab and Umm Imara those who fought with Prophet Muhammad (SAW) in the battle of Uhud.
To participate in political changes is the duty of both men and women, according to the teachings of Islam. The involvement in political affairs of all, regardless of their gender is a responsibility towards the society. The order and law of Islamic laws are for all. Due to lack of participation in the contemporary world the manifestation of the Islamic nation is getting weaker. Whereas, in the history of Islam and Muslim world Women had contributed a lot not just on small or individual level but also state level.
Acquiring education is equally important for man and women in Islam. Although, the discriminatory in educational opportunities between men and women can be seen in many countries, mostly in Muslim countries where there Islamic laws are already had been implemented. In Hadith Prophet Muhammad (SAW) have said that “Acquisition of knowledge is obligatory to both men and women.” But still there are many customary ideals that are not given permission to a woman to go out of the house in order to acquire education, and the bad impact of this custom is reflecting the Muslim societies. Even the first commandment that is revealed in the form of Quranic verse is to “read”. Education for women is very essential because a woman is a homemaker, she takes care of household and raise children. Being educated is essential to produce a new generation that is better in all aspects. Islam doesn’t prohibit women to leave house to acquire education, though it has been appreciated, so that more women and men can be vocal about and take stand for the right of education for women.
Lack of education has become the main reason why Muslim nations are behind by non-Muslim nations. These are still developing countries. Although, only Islam gives vigorous and equal rights to human beings in all aspects of life, regardless of their gender.
After acquiring education or due to some compulsion if a woman wants to work outside then she can work Islam doesn’t prohibit a woman to work outside or inside but the needs and conditions are concerned. It has been said that a woman’s basic responsibility is to take care of her house and spouse, because after marriage it’s a husband’s responsibility to cover the expenses. But if somehow the circumstances don’t support this idea and the expenses are too much that a single person can’t handle and it has become an urgency for a woman to work and become a helping hand for that person, that could be any family member so the woman has a freedom to work in order to make her and others lives better. The woman can earn as much as she needs. The fact about wife’s earning is that if a wife has earned something, so her husband cannot ask her to give it to him because a husband’s earning belongs to wife but the wife’s earning does not belong to the husband. Islam allows and encourages a woman to recognize and use her potential to the benefit of herself, individually, and for the benefit of Muslim society.
In this contemporary world, where Islam’s existence is at its crucial stage, most Muslim women are utilizing their potential to make outsiders to understand Islam and its teachings and principles in a tranquil manner. When a Muslim women’s day was celebrated. Many motivational speeches were given by different Muslim women and they also shared their story on social media. Most women talked about their repression. There are many Muslim women who appear on international stages as a speaker to give motivated speeches to educate and empower other women. Ustadha Leasha Prime who is the executive director of Barakah Inc. and Alia Sharrief the?Hip Hop artist and Founder, Hijabi Chronicles were some of the notable speakers in a Muslim Women day, which was first celebrated in Washington D.C, The United States of America on 27th March 2017, which was held by Lindsa Sarsour who is the Executive Director at MPower Change and the group of women. These women are showing positive and liberal nature of Islam on an international level.
As Islam is the second largest religion in the world, and in different Muslim countries, people are connected to different ethnic groups and they are not just practicing Islamic teachings but also following their culture. Their customs, values and rituals are different from ethnicity to another, but somehow Islam connects them through some basic principles. The role and importance of the women in Islam are equal for all the women in the world, but it differs when it comes to what country they are living in what culture they had adopted and so on. Aside from Islam every culture has its own characteristics and according to them people live their lives. Women responsibilities and their role also got twisted because of the culture’s characteristics. In every culture status of women is different some women are being repressed and some are having higher importance in their communities, it all depend on which class they belong to and what status they hold in the society.
Most women in different part of the world are getting recognized by their appearances that are by wearing a Hijab which is basically to cover a head by a veil. The Hijab is both religious and cultural element. There could be variations of Hijab and it depends on which culture the woman is following. A Muslim woman can show her consent to Allah by wearing Hijab.
Some non-Muslim does criticize and even in some part of the world Hijab has been banned for safety reasons. These policies of banning Hijab are making Muslim women feeling uncomfortable and making their image worse. They are being targeted for wrong allegations. It has always been a sensitive issue. Some outsiders are so concerned to Hijab and make Muslim women feel like that they are living in wrong centuries, and some identify Hijab as a backward ritual and Hijab makes a woman less smarter. But these thoughts have to be correct that by wearing Hijab women are covering their head, not their brain.
The status of women has been mentioned in Quran multiple times as mother, wife, and daughter and in general also. It makes the character and role of woman even stronger. Some of them are mention below.
Allah SWT had said;
Men and women, and Muslims and non-Muslims are all equal in terms of their servitude to the Creator. The Qur’an states, ‘There is no one in the heavens and earth but that he comes to the Most Merciful as a servant.’ Maryam, 19:93
In Quran it has also said that;
“And women have rights similar to those against them in a just manner,”
(Holy Qur’an, 2:228)
These verses of Quran tell us that Allah hasn’t made any difference in the rights of men and women they are equal in the sight of Allah. It also describes the importance of women.
The best way to learn Islam is to read from the Quran and after the Quran, Hadith is the second most reliable way to learn Islam. It is better to read yourselves rather than listening to someone else who is not an Islam scholar.
Women importance and rights are also enlightened by Hadith that are said by Muhammad (SAW) himself. A couple of hadith are mention below.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said: “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers.”
In another Hadith Muhammad (SAW) has said that;
“The most perfect believers are the best in conduct and the best of you are those who are best to their wives.” (Hadith: Ibn Hanbal).
Islam has dignified the role of a woman in almost every aspect and gave equal rights to man and woman.
Islam has given rights to the women and dignified their image 1400 years ago, but still women are seeking their basic right in the contemporary world. Women are also facing challenges in the Western world as well as in the Muslim world.
In the Western world the challenges they are facing are mostly related to their appearance and identity as a Muslim. Although there are many modern challenges that women are facing. In the Muslim world women are facing different challenges which are mostly related to customs and traditions. They are facing problem in the acquisition of education, getting married and they also have less rights regardless what are Islamic teaching are, and these are causing deprivation in social development.