“Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research is a research institute which aims to instill conviction and inspire contribution based on mainstream Islamic texts.”
Pre-Islamic Arabia was brutal in its treatment of women. Women were not viewed as people with essential, independent value.
From the time of their birth, they were already in danger. One of the most horrific practices of Pre-Islamic Arabia was the custom of burying infant girls alive.
But the advent of Islam brought a paradigm shift.
Prophet Muhammad ﷺ fully understood where his society’s disregard for women had come from and addressed the root of the problem to completely revolutionize the treatment of women:
He ﷺ demonstrated women’s inherent value since birth through the way he treated his own daughters.
When his beloved daughter, Fatima, would walk into his home, he ﷺ would stand up to receive her, kiss her on the forehead, and seat her in the place he had been sitting.
He said of her, “She is a piece of me.”
He fully reversed the negative cultural implications attached to daughters by saying: “Whoever raises two daughters and does well with their upbringing will be with me in paradise like these two fingers (holding together his index and middle finger).”
The new outlook transformed the role of a father to daughter(s) to one of serious responsibility.
And the Prophet ﷺ demonstrated by example how the Shari’ah flatly invalidates a marriage conducted without the woman’s consent, whether expressed or implied, by giving the choice to several women to anul the marriages they had been forced into by their fathers previously.
By recognizing the inherent value of a daughter, the Prophet ﷺ was recognizing the inherent value of a woman since birth, a total upheaval of the status quo that carried through generations.
So whenever someone would complain to him about having daughters, the scholar Ahmad b. Hanbal would say: “The prophets were fathers of daughters.”
Read more in “We Used to Have No Regard for Women”: Gender Equity & the Advent of Islam by Maryam Al-Dabbagh, Omar Suleiman, Roohi Tahir and Mohammad Elshinawy
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