The status of Women and their Rights in Islam has been subject to much criticism these days especially from the west. It has been portrayed in their media that women are lesser than men, that they do not have the right to decide for themselves and their lives, and therefore has affected their view on this issue. But the real question here is how much of what the western media is portraying is true, are these misconceptions, assumptions or have they just jumped to a conclusion?
Perhaps what they do not understand is that Islamic Laws and Cultural Norms are not the same things and it is this misconception that raises so many questions about women in Islam. If we look back to the days of our beloved Prophet (PBUH) we have read many times that women used to ride camels and horses, but in the same land today women are not permitted to drive cars, this is a cultural/socio-political decree and not an Islamic law. When young girls in Pakistan are threatened not to educate themselves the issue is an Islamic preaching rather than it being the result of an extremist mindset.
The dilemma of our time is that we have forgotten history or so choose to ignore it. We have read of the horrid conditions of women in Saudi Arabia before the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Islam did not put these women in such conditions as prostitution, subjected to being inferior to men and being treated like a property, instead Islam granted them freedom from their horrid state and gave them equal rights, banned prostitution and improved their lives drastically. Western media chooses to ignore these facts and eagerly take a jab at Islamic cultures whenever they see a Muslim woman with her head covered. If covering your head was being oppressed, then do men feel oppressed when wearing a cap on a sunny day?
Another fact that shows how women have been treated throughout history is that British laws have only 20 years ago granted women equal rights, whereas Islam has throughout history not only granted them equal rights but allowed them to actively participate in leading politics and on the battlefield. Women have been given financial independence in Islam like no other culture or religion. According to Islamic law, the wealth and earnings of a man belong to him and his wife, but the wealth of the wife does not belong to her husband and is for her to use only.
Dating back more than 1400 years, Islam has allowed Women to own properties, be entitled to inheritance and be financially independent whereas the American women could own property only in 1839, and British women were not allowed to enter contracts or get any inheritance until 1900. As it clearly shows how misinterpreted Islamic laws are in the western media, they fail to realize one more important fact that is when you point one finger, four fingers point back at you.