Prior to Islam, the oppression and exploitation of women was rampant.
Women were treated like commodities, female children were buried alive, the right of divorce was in the hands of the man and women were not allowed to own assets or contribute to society. The liberation of Women was revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad SAW more than 1400 years ago and Islam came to protect the rights of Women and raise their honour and status in society.
Here is a list of ways in which Islam brought back Women’s Rights:
A woman is free to choose her own religion.
The Qur’an states: “There is no compulsion in religion. Right has been made distinct from error.” (2:256)
The believing woman, however, if she believes in Allah and the prophet Muhammad and lives righteously is promised a great reward by Allah as the Quran states:
“Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss.”Qur’an 9:72
Islam encouraged women to make spiritual progress and gave her the right to perform the same acts of worship as a man such as praying, fasting, giving in charity etc. In fact, there are many areas of worship in which a woman is exempted from performing yet she still gets rewarded. The Quran clearly states that both men and women will be judged by Allah SWT fairly and both will be rewarded or punished according to their own individual deeds.
“Verily, the Muslims (those who submit to Allah in Islam) men and women, the believers men and women (who believe in Islamic Monotheism), the men and the women who are obedient (to Allah), the men and women who are truthful (in their speech and deeds), the men and the women who are patient (in performing all the duties which Allah has ordered and in abstaining from all that Allah has forbidden), the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allah), the men and the women who give Sadaqāt (i.e., Zakat and alms), the men and the women who observe Saum (fast) (the obligatory fasting during the month of Ramadān, and the optional Nawafil fasting), the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues (while sitting, standing, lying, etc.); Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e., Paradise).” (V. 33:35)
Islam recognised that Women had the capacity for learning and understanding and Prophet Muhammad SAW highly encouraged Women to seek knowledge, primarily of the Quran and Sunnah, but also a Woman is allowed to take advantage or her natural talents and skill set to seek knowledge in other spheres of life whereby she will contribute positively to society. Throughout islamic history, many woman held honourable positions as scholars, teachers, physicians, and scientists.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Education is compulsory for every Muslim.”
The Muslim woman has the right to earn money, to own property, to enter into legal contracts and to manage all of her assets and financial affairs in any way she wishes. She is entitled to inheritance and can spend it how she likes. Regardless of her financial state, a man must still spend on his wife and provide for her.
“And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you excel the others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.” (V. 4:32)
Islam gives a Woman the right to choose her husband and to keep her original name once she is married. She is free to accept or reject or express her opinion regarding marriage proposals. The concept of forced marriages is a cultural practice and is prohibited in islam.
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a woman came to him and said, “My father has married me to my cousin to raise his social standing and I was forced into it.” The Prophet sent for the girl’s father and then in his presence gave the girl the option of remaining married or nullifying the marriage. She responded, “O Messenger of Allah, I have accepted what my father did, but I wanted to show other women (that they could not be forced into a marriage).”
Islam honours a woman in any role she plays in her life. As a mother, as a wife, and as a daughter, both the quran and prophetic traditions placed great emphasis on the importance of respecting women, and the great reward involved in showing her this honour and respect that she deserves.
As a mother
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was once asked, “O Messenger of Allah, who among people is most deserving of my good treatment?” He said, “Your mother.” The man asked twice more, “Then who?” and was given the same response. Only until the fourth time did the Prophet respond, “Then your father.”
As a wife
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also encouraged men to treat their spouses in the best way, “The best of you are those who are best (in treatment) to their wives.”
As a daughter
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever Allah has given two daughters and is kind towards them, they will be a reason for him entering Paradise.”
Most importantly, the Prophet Muhammad SAW in his final sermon before he passed away made a direct address to the men telling them to be kind to their womenfolk. It is therefore an obligation upon the man to treat his womenfolk with utmost kindness.
We pray that God blesses and protects Women all around the world!
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