Women Rights In Islam

Abid Hussain Rah

”And for women are rights over men, similar to those of men over women”

–The holyQur’an

The issue of women’s rights in Islam is a topic of great misunderstanding and distortion, partly due to a lack of understanding, but also partly due to misbehaviour of some Muslim men towards Muslim women. Women in Islam are thought to be subjugated, oppressed, and degraded. But the question lies, are women really subjugated, oppressed or degraded??? The answer is a resounding NO.

Photo: Bilal Bahadur
Photo: Bilal Bahadur

More than 1400 years ago, Islam gave women rights that women in West have begun to enjoy (right to have property). Annie Besant (English theosophist, philosopher, and political figure who advocated educational reforms in India) observed and said, ”It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England has recognised the right of women to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times”

Women are no less than men before Allah (SWT). Men and women worship Allah (SWT) in the same way, i.e. they worship the same God (Allah), perform the same acts of worship and hold the same beliefs and follow the same scriptures and the divine word (Qur’an). Allah emphasises just treatment and reward due to both men and women in many verses of Qur’an:

”Never will I allow the loss of the work of any worker amongst you, male or female; you are of one another”

–the holy Qur’an 3:195

It is evident from this verse of Al-Qur’an that reward is not dependent on one’s gender but rather depends on one’s actions.

Islam has honoured women by giving those rights in all fields of life. Right to choose a spouse is worth mentioning here. Our society is based on the social setup that if a girl wants to marry at her own choice, she is labelled as “character less” without any second thought.

RIGHT TO CHOOSE A SPOUSE:

Many people across the globe have the impression that parents force their daughters into marriage. But Islam never accepts this thing, and it is a cultural practice and has no basis in Islam. In fact, it is prohibited in Islam.

In the time of Prophet (peace be upon him), a women 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 (peace be upon him) sent for the girl’s father & then in his presence gave the girl the option of remaining married or nullifying the marriage. She responded, ”O Messenger of Allah (SAW), I have accepted what my father did, but I wanted to show other women that they could not be forced into a marriage.”

Allah (SWT) created men and women to be different with complimentary rights and responsibilities. Men and women have different but unique skills and roles. But these differences can never be viewed as evidences of superiority or inferiority. In fact, these differences should be viewed as evidences of specialisation. For instance, in a family, man is mainly responsible for financial well-being of the family, while the women contributes to family’s house hold well- being, physical, educational and emotional well-being. This encourages cooperation rather than competition which led to strong bond in families and strong families eventually led to strong societies.

Islam has raised the status of women, mother and daughter. A mother is the bond that keeps her family happy and is undubiously considered as the key to success of a family and hence success of societies. It is obligatory for men to behave well and properly with 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 (peace be upon him) said, ”Your mother.” The man asked the same question again ”then who?” The response was same. Only until the fourth time, the Prophet (peace be upon him) responded “your father.”

It is not only for kind and good treatment towards mothers, one would be rewarded for. In fact, Islam has designated a special reward as well for raising daughters which is not granted for raising sons.

Hence, encouraging, the birth and rising of girl child, which was once considered as a sin in some parts of the world.

Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever Allah (SWT) has given two daughters (or more) and is kind towards them; they will be a reason for him to enter paradise.”

So, Islam in no case encourages women to be subjugated, oppressed or degraded. In fact, women are encouraged and honoured in Islam.

Prophet (pbuh) at another place has said: “All people are equal, as equal as the teeth of a comb. There is no claim of merit of an Arab over a non-Arab or of a white over a black skinned person or of a male over a female. Only Allah fearing people is a merit preference with Allah.”

(Srinagar based author, Abid Hussain Rah is an engineering student at SSM College of Engineering and Technology, Pattan. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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