Fourteen hundred years ago Islam gave women rights; rights that could not have been imagined by Western counterparts. Women’s rights, responsibilities, and choices have been the subject of books, articles, essays, and lectures.
But sadly however, convincing the world that Muslim women are not oppressed by Islam is a message that is just not getting through.
No matter what Muslim women do or say to try to convince the world words like hijab, burka and Sharia seem to do little but convince people that Islam oppresses women. If a woman wears a scarf, covers her hair or puts her religion above worldly pursuits she is immediately labelled oppressed.
The most visible sign of a Muslim woman’s faith is the hijab; it is also the garment that leads people to believe that Islam oppresses women.
Although Islamic scholars unanimously agree that modest dress and head coverings are obligatory in Islam.
The women who chose to wear hijab view it as a right, not a burden. The women in the Muslim world are well aware that they have the same capabilities and deserve the same fundamental rights as men.
Islam raised the level of women, they became equal to men, with rights and responsibilities that take into account the nature of humankind. Unfortunately across the globe, Muslim women are victims of cultural aberrations that have no place in Islam.
The religion of Islam demands that women be treated with respect, honour and justice. In Islam, like men are commanded to believe in almighty Allah and to worship Him. Women are equal to men in terms of reward in the Hereafter. The Holy Quran says:
“And whoever does righteous good deeds, male or female, and is a true believer in the Oneness of God, such will enter paradise; and not the least injustice, even to the size of a speck on the back of a date stone, will be done to them.” (Quran 4:124)
Women in Islam have the right to own property, to control their own money to buy and sell, and to give gifts and charity. Women in Islam have the right to an education; seeking and acquiring knowledge is an obligation on all Muslims, whether male or female. The religion of Islam declares that women are worthy human beings deserving of respect, and the right to be free from oppression. Women have the right to a decent life, without facing aggression or abuse of any kind. They have the right to pursue a life that is pleasing to them within Islamic boundaries.
The true teachings of Islam, declare that women should be held in a position of high regard. Sadly, it is true that some Muslim women are oppressed across the globe are treated badly by some men, but it is not correct to say that Islam oppresses women. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,
“None but a noble man treats women in an honourable manner. And none but an ignoble treats women disgracefully.”
With the advent of Islam came the verse from the Quran condemning 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 dishonour or bury her in the earth? Certainly, evil is their decision.”
And as part of a description of various events on the Day of Judgment, the Quran mentions:
“And when the female (infant) buried alive (as the pagan Arabs used to do) shall be questioned. For what sin she was killed? (At-Takwir 81:8-9)
Islam considers a woman to be equal to a man as a human being and as his partner in this life. Women have been created with a soul of the same nature as men. Almighty Allah says in the Quran:
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Eve), and from them both He created many men and women and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship). Surely, Allah is Ever and All-Watcher over you.” (Al-Nisa 4:1)
A Muslim woman is not permitted to change her family name to her husband’s name upon marriage. She is always known by her father’s name, as a mark of her own identity. In choosing a marriage partner, her consent to accept or reject any prospective suitor for marriage must be respected. A Muslim woman has the right to seek divorce, if necessary within the laws of Islam.
Muslim Women have the right to go outside of their homes they are not forbidden from going out in the community or visiting relatives and female friends, if there is no objection from their parents or guardian or husband and they are covered and behave and speak according to Islamic guidelines and, if necessary, escorted by their Mahram (a close male relative).
A Woman in Islam has the right to Education as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,
“To seek knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim whether male or female.”
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) also said,
“Whoever follows a way to seek knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a way to paradise.”
The Women in Islam have the right to go to the Mosque as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said,
“If someone’s wife asks his permission to go to the mosque, he should not deny it to her.”
Islam gives men and women equal rights. In reality, and in Islam, the rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of man, but they are not necessarily identical with them. Women and men are physically very different from one another, although they are equal to each other in other important ways.
For a Muslim woman, her modest dress is an expression of a universal sisterhood. An Islamic dress also liberates the Muslim woman, and she is then automatically respected for her mind instead of her body. Simply put, she retains her dignity!
It is like saying: I am a respectful woman. I am not for every man to look at, touch, or speak to. I am protected, exactly like a precious white pearl which, if touched by everyone, will become black and dirty. A woman’s modest dress protects society from adultery and other forms of illegal sexual relations that lead to the breakup of families and corruption of society.
Author: Zubair Ul Islam