Islam is the first religion that, in the face of the prevalent patriarchal and misogynist culture, established a women’s status in society.
It gave them equitable rights, in all spheres of their lives. These rights were ensured by Islam only through revelation from God, not as a result of women having to fight for their rights.
Fifteen hundred years ago, Islam granted rights to women that the non-Islamic world has only started to give to women within the past 200 years.
- The right to inherit property (from their husbands, their parents, and their next of kin).
- The right to own, keep, and manage their own property.
- The right to ask and get a divorce.
- The right to remarry.
- The right to seek support, e.g. child support from the husband
- The right to obtain an education.
Islam has honoured women in a variety of ways:
- As a daughter, her importance is such that the Holy Prophet of Islam (saw) tells us: ‘He who brings up his daughters well, and makes no distinction between them and his sons, will be close to me in Paradise.’
- The character of men in an Islamic society is established in relation to their treatment of women. ‘The best from among you is one who behaves best towards his wife.’ (Hadith)
- In her role as a mother, Islam has placed women at a higher status than men. ‘Paradise is at the feet of the mother.’ Islam recognizes the great role that women play in the upbringing of children and that the future of mankind and of societies depends on mothers.
In comparison, the rights of women in the contemporary world are noted:
- In the United Kingdom (till 1882) and in Italy (till 1919) a woman could not own property independently, without the inclusion of her husband.
- In English law, ‘misconduct’ was accepted as a cause for divorce only after 1923. Before that, any form of ‘misconduct’ was not regarded as a justified reason for a woman claiming divorce.
- Abandonment was accepted as a cause for divorce in New Zealand only in 1912.
- Divorce was not allowed for various forms of mistreatment in Tasmania until 1919, in Victoria until 1923, in Cuba until1918, in Mexico until 1917, in Portugal until 1915, in Norway until 1909, in Sweden until 1920, and in Switzerland until 1912.
A fitting testimony to what we have mentioned above is that of American Justice Pierre Craibites who has rightly observed in ‘Mohammad and Teachings of Quran’:
“Muhammad (saw), 1300 years ago assured to the mothers, wives, and daughters of Islam a rank and dignity not yet generally assured to women by the laws of the West”
So, next time someone tells you that Islam oppresses women or Muslim women have no rights, show them this.