Women in Islam: Oppressed or Free?

Women in Islam

At a time when the rest of the world, from Greece and Rome to India and China, considered women to be no better than children or even slaves, without any rights, Islam recognized the equality of women with men in many ways. The Qur’an states:

“And among His signs is that He created companions for you of yourselves, that you may find rest and peace of mind in them, and He has ordained love and mercy among you. Certainly, they are actually signs for people who reflect. ” [Holy Quran 30:21]

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“THE MOST PERFECT IN FAITH AMONG BELIEVERS IS ONE WHO IS BEST IN MANNERS AND KIND TO HIS WIFE.” [ABU DAWUD]

Muslims believe that Adam and Eve were created from the same soul. Both were equally guilty of their sin and fell from grace, and God forgave them both. Many women in Islam have high status; Consider the fact that the first person to convert to Islam was Khadijah, the wife of Muhammad ﷺ, whom he loved and respected so much. His favorite wife after Khadijah’s death, Ayshah, became renowned as a scholar and one of the greatest sources of Hadith’s literature. Many of the female companions have accomplished great things and achieved fame, and throughout Islamic history there have been famous and influential scholars and jurists.

With regard to education, both women and men have the same rights and obligations. This is clear from the saying of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ:

“SEEKING KNOWLEDGE IS MANDATORY FOR EVERY BELIEVER.” [IBN MAJAH]

This implies men and women.

A woman should be treated as God has endowed her with rights, such as being treated as an individual, with the right to own and dispose of her own assets and income, to enter into contracts, even after marriage. She has the right to be educated and to work outside the home. She has the right to inherit from her father, mother and husband. A very interesting point to note is that in Islam, unlike any other religion, a woman can be an imam, a community prayer leader, for a group of women.

A Muslim woman also has obligations. All laws and regulations relating to prayer, fasting, charity, pilgrimage, doing good deeds, etc., apply to women, although with minor differences having mainly to do with female physiology.

Before marriage, a woman has the right to choose her husband. Islamic law is very strict about the need to have a woman’s consent for marriage. The groom gives a wedding dowry to the bride for her own personal use. She keeps her own family name, rather than taking her husband’s. As a wife, a woman has the right to be supported by her husband, even though she is already wealthy. She also has the right to ask for divorce and custody of young children. She does not return the dowry, except in some unusual situations.

Despite the fact that in many places and times Muslim communities have not always adhered to all or even many of the previous ones in practice, the ideal has been there 1,400 years ago, while virtually all other great civilizations have not started to address these issues or the change their negative attitudes until the 19th and 20th centuries, and there are still many contemporary civilizations that have not yet done so.

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