Mahreen Khan explores the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) that provided equality and provision of rights to women.
Before Islam was established, women were treated as if they were farm animals. They were sold, bought, used, beaten, and discarded. They were treated like slaves; baby girls were buried alive and had no real status in society – not as a mother, as a wife or even as a daughter. However, by the Grace of Allah the Almighty, it was through the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, that all these cruelties and injustices were laid to rest. He declared that men and women were equal to one another and just like men have certain rights over women, women also have certain rights over men. Islam was the first religion to ever so clearly, give women the right to inheritance and own property, to divorce and to acquire an education. Husbands no longer had the right to spend the wealth inherited or earned by their wife unless it was willingly given as a gift.
It is with the advent of Islam that the condition of women changed so dramatically. Almost overnight, women were endowed with equal rights and put on the same level with men. In the Holy Quran, Allah makes it clear that He created men and women as equal beings. He says “He has created you from a single being; then of the same kind made its mate.” (39:7)
This single verse removes any taint of inferiority aimed at women, as is in some other scriptures. The Holy Qur’an further ensures woman’s equality on the spiritual, intellectual, social and economic level. In addition, women’s rights were safeguarded by the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him), as he himself carried out the commands of Allah and treated women with great honor, kindness and dignity.
He was so careful with regard to the kind treatment of women that those around him who were not used to looking at women as partners found it difficult to accommodate themselves to the standards that the Prophet was anxious to see set up and maintained. Hadrat ‘Umar relates, “My wife occasionally sought to intervene in my affairs with her counsel and I would admonish her, saying that the Arabs had never permitted their women to intervene in their affairs.” She would reply: “That is all past. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be
upon him) lets his wives counsel him in his affairs and he does not stop them. Why don’t you follow his example?”
Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was also very mindful of women’s feelings that on one occasion when he was leading the Prayers, he heard the cry of a child and concluded the service quickly, explaining thereafter that as he had heard the cry of the child he imagined that the child’s mother would be distressed at its cry and he had therefore concluded the service quickly so that the mother could go to the child and look after it.
In another example, during any of his journey’s where women were also among the party, he always gave directions that the caravan should move slowly and by easy stages. On one such occasion when the men were eager to push forward, he said: “Take care of the glass! Take care of the glass!” meaning thereby that women were of the party and that if camels and horses were put to the gallop they would suffer from the jolting of the animals.
And again, during a battle confusion arose among the ranks of the mounted soldiers and the animals became unmanageable. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) fell from his horse and some of the women also fell from their mounts. One of his Companions, who was riding a camel immediately behind the Prophet jumped down and ran towards him crying, “May I be your sacrifice, O Messenger of Allah.” The Prophet’s foot was still in the stirrup. He released it hastily and said to his Companion, “Don’t worry about me, go and help the women.”
Even just before his death, he addressed to Muslims and stressed that they should always treat women with kindness and consideration. The Holy Prophet(pbuh) admonished men and told them that those who treated women with unkindness could never win the favour of Allah the Almighty. It is Islam that truly established the rights of women, and for the first-time women began to be treated as free individuals in their own right.
Most recently, His Holiness Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be pleased with him), the fifth Caliph of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community spoke about women’s rights at Jalsa Salana UK 2021 during the ladies session. He said that the rights of women highlighted by
Islam have not been mentioned in any other spiritual scriptures. He further mentioned that Islam encourages the education of women so much so, that it is said if a person has two daughters and educates them, then it is enough for that person’s sins to be forgiven and enter into heaven.
The current media is very quick to show Islam as an oppressive religion for women, that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was an unjust and violent man. Governments of developed nations take pride as the flag bearers of women’s rights. However, a simple Google search on world news and events revealed the following that in 2021:
1. Women in China’s “re-education” camps for Uighurs have been systematically raped, sexually abused, and tortured, a BBC report outlined.
2. In Australia, National Hotline for Domestic violence reported that lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic impacts have increased the exposure of women to abusive partners and known risk factors, while limiting their access to services
3. In France, more and more restrictions are being placed by the government on how a Muslim woman is to dress publicly.
4. More women are reporting domestic and sexual violence in Pakistan committed by intimate partners.
5. In Saudi Arabia, despite being the birth country of our beloved Holy Prophet (pbuh) who was the champion of women’s rights, women cannot apply for a passport without the approval of their male guardian, women were not allowed to drive cars until June 2018. Furthermore, they are limited to enter freely into marriage, requiring them to seek the permission of a male guardian. They face further issues in matters of divorce and inheritance.
These injustices against women have no connection with Islam, but it is due to culture created by the modern man and by people moving away from their faith and having no fear for their Day of Judgement.
I conclude by praying that may we always walk the path of righteousness. Every Muslim woman and girl should understand her rank in light of the teachings of Islam and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). In fact, it is the responsibility of every Ahmadi woman and girl to show the world the true rank of women with determination and confidence and leave any feelings of inferiority behind.