By Mushra Hartley
03 March 2015
Women in Islam are thought to be subjugated, degraded, oppressed – but are they really? Are millions of Muslims simply that oppressive or are these misconceptions fabricated by a biased media? Modern Muse helps us decode this theory.
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. It is a slander to say that Islam preaches that women have no souls.” (The Life and Teachings of Mohammed, 1932)
“And for women are rights over men, similar to those of men over women.” Qur’an 2:228
Men and women all descended from a single person – the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him). Islam does not accept for either of them anything but justice and kind treatment.
Equal reward and accountability
Men and women worship Allah in the same way, meaning they worship the same God (Allah), perform the same acts of worship, follow the same scripture, and hold the same beliefs. Allah (the Arabic word for the One true God of all creation), judges all human beings fairly and equitably. Allah emphasises the just treatment and reward due to both men and women in many verses of the Qur’an:
“Allah has promised to the believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss.” Qur’an 9:72
“Never will I allow the loss of the work of any worker amongst you, male or female; you are of one another.” Qur’an 3:195
These verses show that reward is dependent upon one’s actions and not one’s gender. Gender does not play any part in how a person is rewarded and judged.
If we compare Islam to other religions, we see that it offers justice between the sexes. For example, Islam dismisses the idea that Eve is more to blame than Adam for eating from the forbidden tree. According to Islam, Adam and Eve both sinned, they both repented and God forgave them both.
Equal Right to Knowledge
Both men and women are equally encouraged to seek knowledge. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Education is compulsory for every Muslim.”
Also, great female Muslim Scholars existed at and around the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Some were from his family and others were his companions or their daughters. Prominent amongst them was Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him) through whom a quarter of the Islamic law has been transmitted.
Other females were great scholars of jurisprudence and had famous male scholars as their students.
Equal Right to Choose A Spouse
Islam has honoured women by giving them the right to choose a spouse and keep their original family name once married. Additionally, many have the impression that parents force their daughters into marriage. This is a cultural practice, and has no basis in Islam. In fact, it is prohibited.
At the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a woman came to him and said, “My father has married me to my cousin to raise his social standing and I was forced into it.” The Prophet sent for the girl’s father and then in his presence gave the girl the option of remaining married or nullifying the marriage. She responded, “O Messenger of Allah, I have accepted what my father did, but I wanted to show other women (that they could not be forced into a marriage).”