Liberator of Woman

The Islamic teachings about the treatment of women are some of the most misunderstood. In the West Muslim women are often perceived as repressed and deprived of their rights. The media portrays the stereotypical Muslim woman as fully covered and dominated by her husband, with little more status than a slave. You may be amazed to find, that for 1400 years, Muslim women have been enjoying rights for which non-Muslim women are still struggling.”

Islam provides guidance for a peaceful and ideal society. For such a society to exist there must be a social system which upholds the rights and responsibilities of each individual. Such a system would provide a balance in the role and status of men and women, thus putting the status of women on an equal footing with that of men. Such a society was in fact created over 1400 years ago by the noble example of Muhammad (PBUH) through divine guidance safe guarded in the Islamic revelation.

During Muhammad’s (pbuh) ministry women were granted:

The right to divorce
The right to inheritance
The right maintenance / alimony
The right to an education
The right to work and a career
The right to a separate income
The right to own property
Equality under the law

To put this into context, in Great Britain:

The right to divorce – Matrimonial Causes Act 1937
The right to inheritance – Married Women’s Property Act 1884
The right maintenance / alimony – Matrimonial Causes Act 1907
The right to an education – Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
The right to work and a career – Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
The right to a separate income – Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919
The right to own property – Married Women’s Property Act 1893
Equality under the law – We are still legislating. The most recent law being the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act 2002

Minarets_in_Makkah_Mecca

Intellectual equality
Islam stresses that education for men and women is of equal importance, and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) laid down that education is compulsory for both. He said:
“It is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge.”

He also exhorted both to “seek knowledge even if you have to go to China,” and to “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave.”

The Holy Qur’an says:

“He grants wisdom to whom He pleases, and whoever is granted wisdom has indeed been granted abundant good; and none would take heed except those endowed with understanding.” (2:270)

In other words, only those who ponder can understand the signs of God and come closest to him. The Qur’an further teaches us a short prayer which simply says:

“O my Lord, increase me in knowledge.” (20:115)

In keeping with these commands, Muhammad (PBUH) encouraged his wives to seek knowledge and once stated that “half the religion of Islam could be learned from Hadhrat Ayesha (his wife).” Indeed, after his death, the advice of his wives was sought by the entire Muslim community. In modern times days you will see Muslim women active in many professions, such as medicine, nursing and teaching. Any restriction placed on young women in the field of knowledge is deemed to be unislamic, it’s a shame the cultural practices in some countries has deprived themselves of the intellectual abilities and crucial role of female professionals.

It is interesting to note that at the time Islam brought enlightenment for women, in Europe a woman displaying any kind of knowledge was in danger of being burnt at the stake for being a witch! Furthermore, most universities, even in the United States, did not admit women to higher learning until the 20th century.