The issue of women in Islam, is a topic of great misunderstanding and distortion due partly to a lack of understanding, but also partly due to misbehaviour of some Muslims which has been taken to represent the teachings of Islam.
Over fourteen hundred years ago, Islam gave women rights that women in the West have only recently began to enjoy. In the 1930’s, Annie Besant observed, “It is only in the last twenty years that Christian England has recognised the right of woman to property, while Islam has allowed this right from all times.
Can Islam be prejudiced to women, and yet appeal to women? Can Islam lower the status of a woman and still have more women embracing it as their way of life than men? According to an article written by Lucy Berrington in the Times Magazine (London) dated 9th Nov. 1993: “It is even more ironic that most British converts should be women, given the widespread view in the west that Islam treats women poorly. In the United States, women converts outnumber men by four to one, and in Britain make up the bulk of the estimated 10, 000 to 20, 000 converts, forming part of a Muslim community of 1 to 1.5 million “
Before any other religion or system in the world Islam gave a woman the right to inherit, the right to vote and voice her opinion, the right to trade invest and improve herself financially, the right to own – buy and sell, the right to seek knowledge and have a good education, the right to work and has even gone further to oblige the males in every stage of her life, whether it was a father, brother or husband … It’s their duty before God to take care of her, to spend on her, to provide her with the food , clothing and shelter that she needs, to provide her with a good education, to protect her from anything that can harm her and to never hesitate to put their lives in stake for her if the need calls them to do so.
Islam considers men and women equal as far as the basic human rights are concerned. It not only recognizes a human personality for both, but also considers them equal in all rights and human privileges. The following verses of the Qur’an support this statement:
“O, mankind, fear your Lord who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad many men and women ….” (4:1)
“O mankind! We have created you male and female and appointed you races and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most God fearing of you ….”(49:13)
“I waste not the labour of any that labours among you, be you male or female ‑the one of you is from the other ….”(3:195)
“And the believers the men and the women, are friends one of the other; they bid to honour and forbid dishonour; they perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and they obey God and His Messenger. Those upon them God will have mercy …. “(9: 71)
“Men and women who have surrendered (unto Allah), believing men and believing women, obedient men and obedient women, truthful men arid truthful women, enduring men and enduring women, humble men and humble women, men and women who give in charity, men who fast and women who fast, men and women who guard their private parts, men and women who remember God much, for them God has prepared forgiveness and a mighty re ward. “(33:35)
“O believers, let not any people scoff at another people who may ‘be better than they; neither let women scoff at women who may be better than they. And find not fault with one another, neither revile one another by nicknames ….” (49:11)
“And We have charged man concerning his parents‑his mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning was in two years‑be thankful to Me and to your parents ….”(31:14)
“They (women) are a vestment for you, and you (men) are a vestment for them ….”(2:187)
“To the men a share of what parents and kinsmen leave and to the women a share of what parents and kinsmen leave ….”(4:7)
“To the men a share from what they have earned, and to the women a share from what they have earned ….(4:32)
“The fornicatress and the fornicator‑scourge each one of them a hundred stripes, and in the matter of God’s religion, let not tenderness for them seize you if you believe in God and the Last Day ….”(24:2)
“Say to the believers, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts; that is purer for them ….And say to the believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts …”.(24:30‑31)
“And the thief, male and female: cut off the hands of both as a recompense for what they have earned and a punishment exemplary from God ….”(5:38)
These Verses were quoted as examples only, for there are many more verses clearly mentioning both the men and women and specifying the directions in their regard. Apart from this, there are hundreds of verses that take the form of address, “O mankind!” or “O believers!” which cover both men and women.
The above‑mentioned verses, in short, mean as follows: Both men and women are human beings, both are expected to follow Islam, be faithful and obedient believers. The good reward, paradise and God’s grace are for both. Both have similar duties to perform; for instance, the ritual prayer, fasting, Zakat, to command to good and to prohibit from evil.
Yes, of course, women have the right of their opinions, the right to vote, the right to drive a car, the right to work and generate their own income and the right to own property and so much more. Islam places women on a pedestal and there is no greater than the respect they hold for women and Mothers in particular.
Those, Muslims, who claim otherwise are ill-informed and taking tradition and cultural custom and power over what Islam and the Qur’an educates us to know.