Islam is a religion that gave rights to every existing living creature on earth. It was the only religion that specified ethics of war. Islam declared a high rank for women and denied the curse and humiliation attached to women hood by other prevailing religions and civilization.
Rights given to the women are those which are prescribed in the Islamic Sources for the law, the misbehavior of some Muslims or the western propaganda has nothing to do with the real picture of women rights in this divine religion.
If we consider the situation of people before Islam, we come to know that if a baby girl was born in a family no one used to congratulate them rather parents themselves buried their daughters alive.
Islam declared the birth of a baby girl as the blessing of ALLAH, thus it gave the right to respect and right to life to the baby girl. The Holy Prophet Blessings and Peace be upon HIM announced great rewards from ALLAH for the father to whom a baby girl is born and the father raises her well and gives her proper care and good education.
Unlike Buddhism, we don’t see anywhere that the Holy Quran has ever mentioned the women as a curse or the sole reason for the fall of men. We see that the Holy Quran announces respect for the whole mankind, not the men alone.
We see that Islam specifies that Jannah, that is the ultimate reward announced in almost all the religions, lies under the feet of the mother. In the Holy Quran, nowhere is any trace of blaming mother Eve for eating the banned fruit and fall of mankind from heavens.
The Holy Quran while speaking about the incident treats Adam and Eve equally. When Islam talks about the sufferings of pregnancy it does not say that it is the result of original sin neither does it say that women are to be treated as the tool for reproduction of men rather Islam honors the sufferings of pregnancy and if a woman dies in childbirth she is a martyr and to be given great reward from ALLAH.
1-Islam gives freedom to women in economic matters: It is to be remembered that Europe did not acknowledge the right of ownership of property for women. In the case of married women were subjected to the will of a husband about the property.
The first law “married women property Act” that gave the women some rights to their owned property was passed in 1860. This law is in no way competitive with the laws prescribed hundreds of years ago by Islam.
Islam bestows freedom on women in the economic matters and gives them many privileges as well. The concept that only place for women in their home or labor room can be the theory of any other religion but not of the divine religion Islam.
If there are a truly Islamic state and society then there must be qualified female doctors, female teachers, and female nurses etc. Islam ordains that if a woman chooses to work she is entitled to receive equal salary and not for equal work but for the work having equal worth.
If she chooses to work, or if she’s married with the consent of her husband, she’s entitled to equal pay, not for equal work, but for work of equal worth. Thirdly, when it comes to financial security, Islamic law is more tilted in many respects towards women.
2-During the period of engagement, a woman is to be on the receiving side of gifts: At the time of marriage, it is the duty of the husband, not the bride’s family. He is supposed to pay for a marital gift.
The Quran called it a gift, and it is exclusively the right of the woman. She doesn’t have to spend it on the household; she doesn’t have to give it to her father or anyone else.
If the woman happened to own any property prior to marriage, she retains that property after marriage. It remains under her control. Also, in most Muslim countries, the woman keeps her own last name and her own identity.
3-If the woman has any earnings during her marital life, by way of investments of her property or because of work, she doesn’t have to spend one penny of that income on the household, it is entirely hers.
The full maintenance and support of a married woman are the entire responsibility of her husband, even though she might be richer than he is. She doesn’t have to spend a penny.
At the time of divorce, there are certain guarantees during the waiting period and even beyond for a woman’s support.
4-If the widow or divorcee has children, she’s entitled to child support: In return for these listed securities, it is clear why the Islamic laws pertaining to inheritance give men a higher share.
From the social standpoint, as a daughter, we find that credit goes to Islam for stopping the barbaric practice of pre-Islamic Arabs of female infanticide. These ignorant people used to bury daughters alive.
The Quran forbade the practice, making it a crime. Secondly, the approval and consent of the girl to marriage is a prerequisite for the validity of the marriage in Islam.
She has the right to say yes or no. Husbands’ and wives’ duties are mutual responsibilities. They might not be identical duties, but the totality of rights and responsibilities are balanced.
If a divorce becomes necessary, there are many detailed procedures in Islamic law that knock down the common notion that divorce in Islam is very easy and that it is the sole right of man.
It is not the sole right of man alone and neither is it true that all you have to say is I divorce you three times, and that’s it. Islam also has laws regarding custody of children.
I was very surprised to see newspapers making the false claim that in all cases custody goes to the father. Custody involves the interest of the child, and laws often favor the mother of young children.
5-Polygamy has become so mythical in the minds of many people that they assume being Muslim means having four wives. This is a false notion, of course.
A very renowned anthropologist, Edward Westermarck, in his two-volume work, History of Human Marriage, notes that there has been polygamy in virtually every culture and religion, including Judaism and Christianity.
But the point here is not to say, why blame Islam Islam is the only religion even among Abrahamic faiths that specifically limited the practice of polygamy that existed before Islam and established very strict conditions for guidance.
The question, how could any man have two wives that are terrible and reflects ethnocentrism? We assume that because we’re living in the West and it seems strange, and we assume it must apply to all cultures, all times, under all circumstances.
This simply isn’t true. Let me give you one current-day example. In the savage attack on Afghanistan, genocide was committed on the Afghani people. It is estimated that 1-1.5 million people lost their lives, a great majority of whom were men of a marriageable age.
Now, with a great shortage of men, what will happen to their widows, their orphans and their daughters of marriageable age Is it better to leave them in a camp, with a handout or better a man is willing to take care of his fallen comrade’s wife and children.
It is obvious that monogamy is the norm for Muslims. If we assume that having four wives is the norm, then we assume a population of 80% female and 20% male, which is an impossibility on the aggregate level.
The only verse in the Quran that speaks about polygamy, speaks about limiting not instituting polygamy. The verse was revealed after the Battle of Uhud in which many Muslims were martyred, leaving behind wives and children in need of support. This verse shows the spirit and reason of the revelation.
6-Finally, a few words about political involvement: During the reign of ‘Umar R.A, women participated in lawmaking. ‘Umar R.A made a proposal of a certain regulation concerning marriage.
A woman in the mosque stood up and said, ‘Umar, you can’t do that. ‘Umar did not tell her, shut up, you are a woman, you have nothing to do with politics, etc. He asked, Why? She made her argument based on Quran.
In front of everybody, he stood up and said, the woman is right and ‘Umar is wrong, and he withdrew his proposal.
That was the spirit in the early days of Islam. In the most authentic collection of Hadith, Hadith Bukhari, a section is devoted to the participation of women, not only in public affairs, but in the battlefield, too, and not only as logistical support.
Women carried arms, and when there was a great danger to the Muslims, they volunteered to participate even in the battlefield.
The problems presented here are not the problems of Islam. They are problems of a lack of commitment, lack of application, or misapplication of Islamic teachings by Muslims themselves.
The topics I have tried to cover here represent and exemplify the big gap that exists between the true teachings of Islam as derived from its original sources and its projected image in the West and the way some Muslims behave in the disregard of those noble teachings.
There’s no question that the Western media has played an important role in perpetuating these misconceptions. But in fairness, we should not blame the media alone.
Western culture, in writings about other religions Islam, have distorted images. From books, novels, even in the academic circle, and sermons from the pulpit in places of worship, these kinds of prejudices are perpetuated.
There are fair and honorable people in the media who are receptive to correction of inaccuracies, and who present the facts, when the facts become manifest, as we have seen in the coverage of the barbaric and cruel treatment of the Palestinians and the Occupied Territories.
What I would suggest to the media is instead of depending on the distorted information about Islam; they should keep in touch with educated Muslims, and remember, the U.S. has between 5 and 6 million Muslims.
Only through correct representation and open communication with Muslims in America can the media give a fair analysis of current events, given the background of those conflicts, and provide a great service to society.