Women’s rights are a prominent topic in the 21st century, with the focus generally being on equality. However, it is imperative for Muslims to acquire knowledge of women’s rights from the Islamic perspective; Islam is the religion that Allah perfected for mankind. The mistreatment of women undoubtedly remains a widespread issue throughout the world. This can occur in the form of domestic violence, physical beating, so-called ‘honor killings’, or people depriving women of their basic human rights.
Some societies consider women to be inferior creatures in comparison to men, treating them like mere property. Often, people also frown upon women’s education in rural areas. Men who are ignorant and tyrannical often subject women to poor treatment, thinking that their religion authorizes such cruelty. Due to men possessing greater physical strength, women are frequently vulnerable to oppression at their hands.
Men often discriminate and degrade women, even in societies that people portray as more civilized, advanced, and humane. Since women are inherently physically weaker than men, they can fall victim to prey. They encounter all sorts of abuse, be it of a physical, mental, or financial nature. The push for women’s equality in the West has also failed to bring about truly valuable change, as women are still liable to abuse. The superficial women’s rights championed by the West have not succeeded in erasing the prevailing mistreatment of women.
Islam is the only perfect source for Women’s Rights
While there exist various modern holidays such as Women’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Islam doesn’t single out any particular day for such purposes. Rather, Islam enjoins the correct treatment of everyone, including women, on every day of the year. After all, Islam is a complete way of life, and believers must follow its teachings at all times.
Allah has bestowed women with rights that are in perfect harmony with their natural attributes, capabilities, and physiology. There is no alternative ideology or man-made concept of women’s rights that can match the perfection of the rights that God, the Creator of everything, bestowed upon women.
There are mutual rights in Islam
At the beginning of Surah An-Nisa (an entire Quranic chapter dedicated to women), Allah orders humankind to fear Him and mentions that we claim our mutual rights through God. Islam requires Muslims to pay heed to the rights of Allah as well as those of creation. One cannot afford to neglect the rights of either the Creator or the creation.
Women’s Civil Rights
In Islam, we must cherish Muslim women’s intellect, and the religion supports them sharing their opinions and thoughts. Men and women are both esteemed members of society, and Islam values the contributions of both genders. Muslim women have the right to decide whether they want to say yes or no when they receive proposals for marriage.
Women should retain their surnames, even when they marry. Courts must accept women’s testimony. Non-believing women cannot be forced to convert to Islam if one wants them to do so for marriage. They can only embrace Islam out of their own free will because Islam forbids coercion in religion as we learn in Surah Al-Baqarah.
Women’s Social Rights
Islam enjoins the seeking of knowledge, and this applies to both genders. As the Prophet (PBUH) said in a Hadith in At-Tirmidhi, Muslim men and women must seek knowledge. Believers should gain knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah. They are also encouraged to pursue the acquisition of the numerous other types of knowledge that exist. Allah frequently tells us to reflect on His creation in the Quran.
Allah blessed women with free-will and intelligence just like men, and they should also make use of these blessings to learn about their religion and the world. The Prophet’s (PBUH) beloved wife Ayesha (RA) was among the most exceptional scholars and one of the greatest narrators of hadith. Muslims, regardless of their gender, have a responsibility to attain knowledge and act on it for the benefit of society.
Even when it comes to the household, mothers need to be well-informed regarding their faith. They play an immense role in the upbringing of their children. If the mother lacks religious knowledge, she is unlikely to instill Islamic values in her children sufficiently. Hence, it is imperative for parents to obtain knowledge and raise their children correctly. Those who don’t pay heed in this regard will be accountable to Allah on the Day of Resurrection for failing to set a noble example for their children.
Women’s Political Rights
Believing women can take part in politics and have roles in the government. Obviously, they must still adhere to Islam’s teachings pertaining to what they wear and their conduct. Certainly, nothing a Muslim woman does should involve compromising her responsibilities as a wife, mother, or daughter.
When a Muslim woman has an authoritative role, she should observe modesty while fulfilling her duty and remain observant of her religion’s teachings. She must also remain dignified and appropriate in her communications with men, taking care not to violate any Islamic principles. Furthermore, she should not even think of abusing her rights in any way, shape, or form.
Women’s Economic Rights
Allah created men and women differently, each gender having different attributes, enabling them to thrive in different roles. As far as the nature of women is concerned, it is ideal for playing the role of a nurturer in the home. Meanwhile, Allah placed the responsibility of guardianship on men, as outlined in Surah An-Nisa. Therefore, Muslim women are entitled to financial aid.
Men’s responsibility to maintain women also involves protecting them and being kind to them. Women can work and own property. They also have the right to look after their finances on their own. Indeed, the men in a woman’s family don’t have any right to her wealth. However, she may give them from her wealth if she wishes to do so.
Specific Rights and Standing of Women in Islam
Rights of Daughters
According to a hadith from Al-Bukhari, one who has three, or even two, daughters and looks after their needs, clothing them and being merciful to them will enter Paradise. Daughters should be provided with both Islamic and worldly education.
It is of prime importance to keep daughters safe and protect them. Parents should bring them up with sound Islamic morals and teach them about modesty as prescribed in the religion. Moreover, their permissible needs and wants should be met. It is crucial to get their willing consent when considering a spouse for them.
In Surah Ar-Rum, Allah tells us that men and women are mates and should live in peace with each other, and Allah has placed love and mercy between the two. Muslim wives have the right to have a home to stay in. She is also entitled to clothes, food, a dowry, and kind treatment.
It is the husband’s duty to provide for his wife and spend on her as per his means. She can do a job or do something she is passionate about, provided it is permissible, the husband allows it, and she doesn’t fall short in her domestic duties. The wife’s money and possessions are hers, and her husband doesn’t have a right on them. Even if the wife is blessed with abundant wealth, the husband must fulfil his role as provider and take care of her needs.
Rights of Mothers
In Sahih Muslim, when the Prophet (PBUH) was asked who is most deserving to be well treated, he replied by saying that mothers are, and after mentioning the mother thrice, he mentioned the father and then one’s relatives. It is evident that the status of mothers in Islam is one of immense nobility.
Children should love their mothers, obey them, and treat them well, three times more than their fathers. Furthermore, another hadith tells us that Heaven is below the feet of our mothers. Hence, children who respect, obey, and attend to their mothers’ needs become worthy of attaining Heaven in the Hereafter.
In the Quran, Allah mentions obedience to parents alongside worshipping Him without associating partners, making the importance of this command clear. Children should say even “uff” to their parents, due to the respect for parents in Islam. Mothers have a higher status than fathers due to all the pain and hardship they go through to carry kids and give birth.
While the father plays the role of the provider, the mother is the one who takes care of the children. She looks after them and devotes her time to ensuring their wellbeing. The mother also cooks food and does the cleaning, looking after the house. A mother’s love for her children and dedication to looking after them is among the most powerful human emotions.
If one witnesses women being treated in a harsh, unkind, and cruel manner in Muslim nations, it is undoubtedly a result of cultural practices, far removed from the pure teachings of Islam. Our religion grants women an honorable status, and the denial of a woman’s rights is something abhorrent in Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) tirelessly reminded the believing men that treating their women-folk well is of prime importance until he breathed his last.