WOMEN’S BEFORE ISLAM
WOMEN IN THE PAST
Prior to Islam, a woman’s status in the sight of all nations of the World was nothing more than the value of household goods. They were treated like animals. They were bought and sold. They had no choice in the matter of marriage; they had to silently accept the highest bidder. They never inherited, even from their close relatives. In fact, she herself would become an item of distribution just like any other commodity of inheritance in a descendants estate. Women were regarded merely as properties and possessions of men. Even in the so-called modern European countries they were not even regarded as human. Even in religious matters women were given no status by the men, for they were not considered to be worthy of prayer or fit to be counted as human.
It was generally accepted that it was permissible for men to bury their daughters alive, and this heartless act of inhumanity was regarded as an act sight of humanity and respect. Further more, it was generally accepted that if a lady was murdered then her murderer could not be punished in any way. Neither was he to be killed in retaliation nor was he to pay blood money. According to many religions, when a man dies, his wife has to burn herself to death.
WOMEN & MAN
In fact, it was as late as 586 AC that a little concession was given to women and after much arguing, debates and disputes, revolution was passed stating that a woman was a human but that she was created and born only to serve man. As late as 1856 women in Britain were not allowed their earnings and had no right to inheritance. In that year women perhilitioned pastinant which was composed safely of male members to allow married women to keep their own earnings and inherit property. In 1857 divorcee women were given the same rights as single woman but married women had to wait until 1893 to receive the same rights.
Testullion, a religious leader of the early period of Christianity interprets the Christian idea of women in these words: She is the gate through which the devil enters she is the beginner of man to the forbidden tree, she is the breaker of the law of God and is the plunderer of man who is the image of God.
THE PROPHET REGARDING WOMEN
May our lives be sacrificed for that mercy unto mankind the Prophet Muhammad and the religion of truth which he brought and which opened the eyes of the World. He, with divine guidance taught mankind the real value of humanity. From the swarm of darkness and polytheism into the paradise of light and monotheism.
He enforced justice, making it obligatory for men to fulfill the rights of women. Just as it is necessary for them to fulfill the right of men. He freed women from the slavery of man. A woman was granted the ownership of her life and property. Thus, no man not even a father or a grand father could force a mature woman to marry against her wishes and desires, nor without her consent.
No person has the right to use her wealth without her permission. Just as males are entitled to their share in the estate of their relatives, females also have their own rights. To spend upon ones wife and to keep them happy within the boundaries of Islam is regarded as an act of worship. The blessed Prophet has stated:
To have intercourse with ones wife is charity and a means of reward “. The Sahabah ? inquired. “O” Prophet ? is there a reward for fulfilling your desires also? The Holy Prophet replied, Had he fulfilled his desires in the wrong place would he not have sinned? The Sahabah answered Yes. So the Prophet then said, In order to safeguard oneself from sin one will undoubtedly attain reward.
To deprive a woman of her rights is undoubtedly a severe oppression, which Islam has wiped out by means of very just and moderate laws. The so-called lifestyle of women is also a form of injustice to give them a free right depriving them of the guided authority of men and making them equally responsible to pursue their own livelihood to lead them to their destruction.
PARENT’S UPBRINGING OF A CHILD
Unfortunately, nowadays, the parents themselves encourage their young daughters to go and earn their own livelihood and when things go wrong they question themselves as to how the situation came about. They will cry for months on end little knowing that they themselves sent their daughters to the fire.
WHAT QURAN HAS REVEALED REGARDING WOMEN
Allah states in the Quran: And stay in your houses and do not display yourselves like that of the time of ignorance.
And at another place: And tell the believing women to lower their gazes (from forbidden things) and protect their private parts and not to show off their adornments only that which is apparent.
In Surah Baqarah Allah has declared: And the men have superiority over the women. In other words, men are their guardian governors. The difference could be likened to the necessity of appointing a captain in a football team, where the captain is subjected to the same rules and privileges of his teammates. But a greater responsibility and a higher rank have been conferred upon him in order to maintain a proper system for the smooth running of the team.
WOMEN AND THE MODERN SOCIETY
During the pre-Islamic era women were treated like animals and household goods. Unfortunately today the modern world has ushered in a second period of ignorance in which, in its attempt to rectify the folly of the pre-Islamic times.
Some of the ill effects created by removing women from under the guardianship and authority of men:
a) The respect for women has been lost.
b) Marked increase in the divorce rate.
c) Neglect of children.
d) Children are not being educated and trained in an Islamic way.
e) Jobs of male personnel being taken by females, resulting in the increase of unemployment.
f) Increase in the instances of rape.
g) The rise in the unemployment amongst males leads to loafing idleness which encourages alcoholism, drug abuse, rape, murder, robbery and a host of other social evils.
All this in the name of liberation.
Nowadays, there are some misguiding and misleading notions regarding the status of the rank of women in Islam. This information is given by people who consider women in Islam to be prisoners and someone who has no rights and is always under the domination of man. The importance given to a woman can be deduced from the following Hadith:
PROPHETS WORDS REGARDING WOMEN.
The Holy Prophet has stated :
The best amongst you is the one who is the best towards his wife.”
(Tirmidhi, Ibne-Majah, Dasimi.)
On another occasion the Prophet stated: Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.
On another occasion the Prophet 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.
THE FIRST PERSON TO ACCEPT ISLAM
Also, the first person to accept Islam was not a man, but it was a woman. Hazrat Khadija the wife of the Prophet.
THE FIRST MARTYR.
The first person to get martyred was also a woman. Abu-Jahal tied the right arm and leg onto one camel and tied the left arm and leg to another camel and shouted out:
“O” Sumayyah radiallhu anha forsake the religion of Muhammad.” She 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 She was then martyred.
From the above it is clearly proven just what an important position is given to women in Islam. May Almighty Allah guide both the Muslim men and women and grant them the correct understanding of the true religion. Aameen
WOMEN’S AFTER ISLAM
Islam brought a new lease of life to women. Islam elevated the status of women to great heights: so high that she stood shoulder to shoulder with man. Like men, their rights were also well defined and Islamic Courts supported them to achieve these rights. Islam granted women the right to ownership. They now owned the amount of their Mehr. They could engage in trade and have their own properties. They were also given the right to inherit the property of the deceased father and husband.
With the advent of Islam came the verse from the Quran condemning those who practiced female infanticide: When news is brought to one of them, of (the birth of) a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inward grief! With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had! Ah! What an evil (choice) they decide on. (16:58-59)
The Holy Quran makes no distinction between man and woman as regards to the fundamental human rights. Here we may specifically state that: Woman, like man, is the possessor of free personality, and enjoys equality with man, in respect of:
Her spiritual and moral status: The Quran says: “Unto men the benefit of what they earn (of virtue) and unto women the benefit of what they earn (of virtue) (i.e., in matters of spiritual grace both, man and woman, enjoy equal status and are independent of one another)” (4:32)
Her economic rights: The Quran says: “Unto the men (of a family) belongs a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, and unto the women a share of that which the parents and near kindred leave, whether it be little or much #150; a legal share.” (4:7)
Her legal rights: The Quran says: “And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them, according to what is equitable.” (2:228)
Islam ensured a dignified life to the fair sex, which was hitherto treated in an unfair manner. Woman became the mistress of the household. Man was not allowed to beat or manhandle them nor deprive them of their share in the property. The Holy Quran declared: “A mother should not be made to suffer because of her child, nor he to whom the child is born (be made to suffer) because of his child (because both are equal before the law).” (2:233).
Almighty Allah commanded man to behave well. “O Believers! It is not lawful for you to be heir of the women forcibly, and prevent them not with this design that you may take away part of what you had given them as dower except in this shape that they commit an act of flagrant, indecency and treat them fairly; then if you dislike them, it is likelihood that you may dislike a thing and wherein Allah has placed much good.” (4: 19)
It is necessary to establish the Quranic viewpoint with respect to the concepts of Duty and Right.
The Quranic moral code is based on the emphasis on obligation not duty in contrast to the emphasis on right. Now, the implications of the emphasis respectively on duty and right are: Right is a right against someone. Duty is a duty towards someone. Right means that someone owes something to us. For, when we say: it is our right, it means that someone has to perform a duty to us. On the contrary, when we say: it is our duty, it means that someone has a right against us.
Islam has granted to the husband a senior position in the functioning of the household and appointed him as the commander so that he could get through any crisis with the help of wisdom and initiative given to him by Almighty Allah. Islam has prescribed certain obligations that a husband has to fulfill in the interest of his wife. Simultaneously, Islam has enjoined upon the wives to appreciate their duties towards their husbands. This is a give-and-take business. Both man and woman are closely connected with each others rights and duties.