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The Empowerment of Women in Islam

By Humda Zainab

The 8th of March marks the International Women’s Day. A day where we celebrate women and their social, economic, cultural, and political achievements. It is a day that reminds us of the struggles that women have faced and continue to face to attain basic human rights. It is a celebration of the women in our lives, without whom we would be nothing.

We know that it has taken women a long time to get to where they are today. However, there did once exist a society, more than 1400 years ago, that was way ahead of us in championing the rights of women. It was a society that was established under the law revealed by God Almighty to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). A society where women – whether it be a mothers, daughters, sisters, or wives – were given the respect and rights they deserved. Women were made to realise that they had an identity and were human beings just like men. As such, women played key roles in various capacities from those who partook in battles in the 7th century by tending to wounded soldiers, to the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) own wife Hazrat Khadijarz who was a successful tradeswoman (Maryam Magazine, July-September 2018).

The equality established between men and women by the Holy Quran is summed up perfectly by the following verse: He has created you from a single being; then from that He made its mate. (Chapter 39, Verse 7). Explaining the first half of this verse, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (aba) states,

“when Allah the Almighty has said that He has created a woman in the same way that he created man, it becomes clear that Allah has made the hearts and minds of women in the same way that He has created the hearts and minds of men.” (Address at the National Ijtema Lajna Imaillah UK Sep 24, 2017)

He then went on to say, “Whether due to a superiority complex or an inferiority complex, at times, men have considered themselves to be intrinsically different to women or women have considered themselves inherently different to men. However, the Holy Qur’an has categorically refuted this concept by saying that men and women are of the same kind. It has clarified that men and women have the same feelings and emotions, similarly as each man will be accountable before Allah for his deeds, so will each woman also be held accountable for her acts before God.” (Address at the National Ijtema Lajna Imaillah UK Sep 24, 2017)

Therefore, Islam leaves no room for questioning the status of women and encourages them to utilise all the faculties that God has endowed them with, to better their own selves and benefit mankind. To achieve this goal, women are encouraged to attain the highest standards of both secular and religious education. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructed that

“it is the duty of every Muslim man and every Muslim woman to acquire knowledge” (Ibne Majah).