Before the advent of Islam women were deprived from all the spiritual, social, economical, educational, legal and political rights. Women were considered a very low creature in comparison of men and also brutally assaulted by them. Women’s status in the prospect of all nations of the World was nothing more than the value of household possessions that they could simply buy and sold. Men were allowable to bury their daughters alive and this callous act of inhumanity was regarded as an act sight of humanity and respect. Generally, it was also in practice that a murderer of a woman could not be punished in any condition. Moreover, some prior religions have the custom, when a man dies; his wife has to burn herself to death. But Islam bestows right to widow to marry again after the death of her husband and regards women with respect.
The Quran condemn those who practiced female infanticide:
“And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief! He hides himself from the people because of the evil of that whereof he has been informed. Shall he keep her with dishonor or bury her in the earth? Certainly, evil is their decision.” (16:58-59)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the religion of truth which he brought and which opened the eyes of the World, taught mankind the real value of humanity and emphasized on the equality of both genders. Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) enforced justice, making it mandatory for men to fulfill the rights of women. Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) freed women from the slavery of man. A woman was granted the ownership of her life and property. Thus, no men, not even a father or a grand father could force a mature woman to marry against her wishes and desires, nor without her consent. Allah says in Quran regarding equality of men and women: “And women shall have rights similar to the rights against them, according to what is equitable; but men have a degree (of advantage) over them. And Allah is exalted in Power, Wise.” (2:228)
In particular, it is a privilege for women that Hazrat Khadija (R.A) the wife of the prophet was the first lady who accepted Islam. Moreover, the first martyr of Islam was also a women named as Hazrat Sumayyah (R.A). The worst enemy of Islam Abu-Jahal tied the right arm and leg of her against one camel and tied the left arm and leg to another camel and screamed out: “O’ Sumayyah (R.A) forsake the religion of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)?” She (R.A) replied, “O’ Abu-Jahal make this camel run one way and the other camel in the opposite direction, but I will never forsake the religion of Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him)” she was then martyred.
Women’s Rights as Mother
The Holy Quran says: “We have enjoined on the human beings to be kind to his parents. In pain did their mother bore them and in pain did she give them birth.” (46:15)
Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) stated in the honor of a mother:
“Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.” On another occasion the Prophet (PBUH) was questioned, “Who deserves the best care from me?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.” He repeated this three times. When he was asked a forth time he replied, “Your father and your near relatives.”
Women’s Rights as Daughter
Anas (R.A) reported that the Messenger (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “Whoever maintains two girls till they attain maturity, he and I will come on the Resurrection Day like this; and he joined his fingers.”
The Holy Verses demonstrate the importance of women as daughter. “Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half.” (4:11)
Women’s Rights as Wife
According to Islam marriage is a relationship of love and affection and not subordination and servitude. So, Quran beautifully says about the relationship between the husband and wife: “They are your garments, and you are their garments” (2:187). The glorious Quran says in another Surah: “Let the women live, in the same style as you live, according to your means: annoy them not, so as to restrict them. And if they carry (life in their wombs), then spend (your substance) on them until they deliver their burden: and if they suckle your (offspring), give them their recompense: and take mutual counsel together, according to what is just and reasonable. And if ye find yourselves in difficulties, let another woman suckle (the child) on the (father’s) behalf.” (65:6)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) said: “The most perfect of the believers in faith is he who is the best of them in conduct, and the best of you are those who are the best to their wives.”
Women’s Rights to be Educated
In terms of education Islam entitles women the same rights as men. Allah Almighty encourages women to read and keep up the learning process. He also bestows His mercy upon all who seek knowledge, and gives them high status.
The Prophet of Allah (Peace Be Upon Him) said, “It is obligatory for every Muslim, male or female, to acquire knowledge (Al-Bayhaqi).
Women’s Rights to Inheritance
Before Islam the women enjoyed no rights of inheritance in property. In several verses Glorious Quran it is mentioned that a woman, irrespective she is a wife or she is a mother, or a sister or a daughter, she has a right to inherit. And it has been fixed by Allah Almighty in the Quran.
Allah says in Quran: “There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those closely related, and there is a share for women from what is left by parents and those closely related, whether the wealth be small or large: a legal mandatory share.”
Does Pregnancy Upgrade or Degrade Women?
In Christianity pregnancy and child birth is considered an act to degrade the women rank and the labour pain is a sort of punishment. In fact if you read the Qur’an, pregnancy and child birth have uplifted the women. Quran says, “Respect the womb that bore you.” (4:1)
Allah’s Criteria to Judge Men and Women
In the sight of Allah Almighty the only criteria of judgment is ‘Taqwa ‘God consciousness ‘righteousness’, whereas colour, caste, wealth and gender discrimination has got no criteria in Islam.
Equal Spiritual Duties for Men and Women
Women got the same spiritual and moral duties as the men. Both have to believe, both have to pray, both have to fast, both have to give in charity, etc.
“For Muslim men and Muslim women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast and deny themselves, for men and women who guard their chastity, for men and women who engage much in God’s praise, God has women who give in charity, for men and women who fast and deny themselves, for men and women who guard their chastity, for men and women who engage much in God’s praise, God has prepared for them forgiveness and a vast reward.” (33:35)
But Islam also gives concessions to women in different conditions. As if she is undergoing her menstrual period or pregnancy, she does not have to fast – She can keep those fasts afterward, when she is healthier.
Women’s Rights to Work Outside
Women are not forbidden to work outside if they wish or need to. Quran or Hadith do not prevent women to do any work within the preview of the Islamic Shariah, as long as she maintains her Islamic dress code. But women are prohibited to take up jobs like modeling and film acting, and such kind of jobs which exhibit her beauty and body. As for as financial obligation is concerned, it is not the responsibility of a woman; father, husband, brother and son are responsible for this, so nobody can force her to work.
No Financial Liability
Whatever woman earns is absolutely her own possession and she is not bound to spend it on the household – if she wants to spend it is her free will. It is husband’s responsibility to provide lodging, boarding, clothing and look after the financial aspects of the wife, whether she is rich. Even in the case of divorce or if a wife gets widowed, she is given financial support and if she has children, she is also given financial support to help with the upbringing of the child.
I would like to add that the range of women rights is beyond these all mentioned above.
Consequently, Islam is the only religion that upgrades and protects the rights of women all over the world, which escorts women to the height of modernization. Islam provides women total security, not confined to the walls of their homes but outside the world as well. And importantly Islam is free of gender discrimination and others too. May Almighty Allah guide both the Muslim men and women and grant them the correct understanding of the true religion. Amen.