Does Islam give liberty to women?

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  • Men and women are different and the Almighty takes this into account

 By: Muttaqi Naik

A historical study of the existence of differences between men and women in various societies leads to the conclusion that these differences are indications of different values as well. Because of the values and culture of male domination and of discrimination against women, the position of women in the West was no better than their position in Asia and Africa. Even worse, women were unaware of their rights even there until the beginning of the 19th century. When Western women fought for the recognition of their rights denied for centuries and the struggle for them came into focus with the Suffragette movement in the beginning of the 20th century. This gave birth to women’s liberation movements in various parts of Europe and the Americas. Starting with the Married Women’s Property Act 1882 and ending for the time being with the Pension Act 1995, women in the UK have slowly gained the economic, social, and political freedom denied to them earlier. Unfortunately, the attitude of the Christian Church, until the end of the 18th century, was not very friendly towards women and this caused further difficulties. However, the process of reinterpreting Christian texts and the restating of its values in the 19th  and the 20th centuries have been of immense help to Christian women. (The Position of Women in Islam: A Progressive View by  Mohammad Ali Syed).

In pre-Islamic Arabia the position of women was even worse. Women were treated as nothing but cattle. Married women were treated as heritable property, to be inherited by the heirs of a husband. In this dark era for women, Islamic reforms through the Quran and the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) were revolutionary. Due to these Islamic reforms, between 610 and 632 Muslim women gained rights unparalleled in the world. In fact, Muslim women enjoyed more rights than women in any other society until the liberation of women in the western world. The Quran, the principal authority for all Islamic rules and regulations, put women on an almost equal footing with their male counterparts, and the rights conferred on Muslim women by the Quran were supported and supplemented by the authentic Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

It was Islam that uplifted the status of women and made them parallel to men, they got right of inheritance and other equal rights. The prophetic traditions mainly focus on uplifting the female child and prescribe that one who nourishes a female child is guaranteed paradise. This degree hasn’t been given to a male child. Moreover there are many other traditions that clearly indicate that women entertain more freedom and rights in an Islamic society. There are many tales from the Prophetic era and episodes from the time of rightly guided Caliphs that talk about the liberty women then enjoyed.

Islam guarantees the rights and liberty of women, but those rights were snatched from women in different names. There are women who have shown great character and talent, and the Prophet (PBUH) even encouraged them. But later women were deprived of such freedom. This resulted in the worst condition of women, which then gave birth to feminism and claimed those rights which don’t suit a woman. The need of the hour is to return to Islan’s basic sources and seek out What rights and privileges it gives women, so that their freedom, liberty and rights can be protected

Islam is a complete code of life, guides humanity from nothing to everything, ND guides really well in all the domains of life whether they be social, ethical, economic or political. Islam hasn’t just taken care of big issues, but has paid tremendous attention towards small and minute things. As how to sleep. How to eat and drink, and so on. How can a thinking brain forget the pages of history filled with the killing of innocent female infants, and history time and again reminds us about those massive killers who considered the birth of a female a cause for alarm and like a bad dream. The Holy  Prophet (PBUH) changed this discourse. Now the females were given due care and respect. The unpleasant pages of history were replaced with beautiful and pleasant lines.

Human beings are a species which has been called the crown of creation; their Lord has set different rights and duties for them, so that the whole of humanity can remain in better peace and harmony. Humans have freedom in many things while as they are restricted from such things as are harmful for humanity or other species, whether `flora or fauna. Since from the beginning of life the Almighty has been guiding them to make them live well. But time and again the message and commandments of the Almighty were maligned. In the end the last and greatest guide from Allah named Muhammad (p.b.u.h) came and guided humanity. Human freedom was greatly appreciated. Moreover their rights were addressed. This included so many freedoms and rights, while some restrictions too were imposed.

Quran is the final Word of God sent to guide all humanity. He created pairs for every species so that they can find peace. Likewise humans were also uplifted in pairs, that is, male and female. Both are biologically and physically different. Both have separate capacities and weaknesses. So there are some domains where there way of acting and behaving is different. The biological differences don’t make any superior or inferior. The doctor has separate domain from that of engineer, and can’t be compared. Likewise man and women have differences, but that doesn’t mean one is superior to other. Islam is a big advocate for the rights of both. It has laid solid basis for the life, honour and dignity of humanity. Muslim men and Muslim women are partners of each other. Whoever does good will be honoured without any discrimination on the basis of sex. So in nutshell, both have been guaranteed great freedom within the circle of sharia.

As for liberty, it emerged from the time when Adam and Eve were still in Heaven. They were given freedom of everything, but commanded not to eat from the forbidden tree. So while free for everything, there was a restriction. The Almighty doesn’t stop us from things that are good for us, but forbids those with the worst consequences on human intellect and body, like alcohol.

Islam guarantees the rights and liberty of women, but those rights were snatched from women in different names. There are women who have shown great character and talent, and the Prophet (PBUH) even encouraged them. But later women were deprived of such freedom. This resulted in the worst condition of women, which then gave birth to feminism and claimed those rights which don’t suit a woman. The need of the hour is to return to Islan’s basic sources and seek out What rights and privileges it gives women, so that their freedom, liberty and rights can be protected.

The writer can be reached at: [email protected]

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