HOW ISLAM LIBERATE WOMEN
How Islam liberated women by Ameen Olorunnimbe,
This is an article base up on Islam and the liberation of women in regards to civilization, the teachings of the prophet and how he lived among the women.
Annie Besant, née Wood (1 October 1847 – 20 September 1933) was a British socialist, theosophist, women’s rights activist, writer and orator and supporter of Irish and Indian self-rule said “”it is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the greatest prophet of Islam, who knows how he taught and how he lived to feel anything but reverence for that mighty prophet, one of the great Messengers of the Supreme”” The life and the teachings of Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him), 1932, p4.
A lot have been said about in Islam mostly from Christians who know very little about the religion. They would not learn about the liberation of women but they only know about women being suppress by Muslim men. Islam liberated women 1400 years ago while women were liberated in Europe just for 100 years now. Long before suffragettes and women were given human rights i.e. Inheritance (right of properties), education and rights to choose a man of their choice. The fastest growing religion is Islam. In the West 75-80% that converts to Islam are women (USA and UK including Holland and Germany) – the Times Newspaper of the 9th of November 1993). If one do not know much about the women in this religion of Islam may well ask oneself; “why do one think so many liberated women want to be Muslims?”
This article will briefly explain some of these reasons.
This article is divided into many parts (numbers).
1). The injustices done to women;
2). The spiritual and social aspects;
3). Importance of knowledge and education;
4). Separating facts from fiction;
5). Marriage and divorce;
6). Our mother/wives and hijab;
7). Economic and rights to work;
8. Polygamy in Islam and Christianity;
09). And Conclusion.
1). The injustice done to women in Islam:
Very much have been said and written about women in Islam. However, most of these sayings and writings are from people, Christians and the enemies of Islam. They know very little or nothing at all about this religion. Islam liberated the women 1400 years ago before civilization of Europe on women 100 years ago in 1918. …………long before the Suffragettes and women’s rights’ movement which began in the British House of Parliament…. the right of women of inheritance, the rights of education, the rights of owning a property and rights to earn a living, the rights of women choosing a person of their love and marriage, all these rights were given to women in 1918. Among the British women were Emmeline Pankhurst fought in February 6, 1914 for the women, Emily Wilding Davision and Millicent Fawcett. In the USA, Susan B. Anthony, 1820-1960, Alice Paul, 1885-1977, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1815-1902, Lucy Stones, 1888-1893 and so many other women were in that struggle Mostly the rights of women to bear their maiden names. All these rights are stated clearly in the holy Qur’an in the second, fourth, sixteenth chapters respectively.
2).The injustices done against women:
Adam and Eve, our grand parent committed sin, however, the bible blamed the woman for this sin committed. Why only the woman when two couples committed the same sin and only one is blamed? Our mother, Eve is viewed in the bible, Old Testament as an evil temptress for the sins of Adam. She was held responsible for the sins; original sin stated clearly in the book of Genesis 2:4 and 3:24, “no wickedness comes anywhere near the wickedness of a woman. Sin began with a woman and thanks to her we all must die.” The book of Ecclesiastes 25:19, 24. Much of the oppression of women that took place for couple of centuries was based upon this wrong premise that only women evils inherently. In the late 19 century, the English Common Law stated clearly that ‘a woman’s possessions belonged to her husband. It’s only in 1887 women were allowed to own properties while the Qur’an has allowed that 1400 years ago. Cambridge and Oxford Universities gave equal rights to education for women in 1964 while the Universities in Medina, Cairo, Morocco and Jordan have allowed women education for a long time before 1964. Compare this to the status and rights given to the Muslims women more than 1400 years ago.
2). Spiritual and social aspects;
In Islam there is absolutely no difference between men and women in the eyes of the Creator. God almighty is concern with their affairs and relationships to based upon His fears and to love on another. Therefore, God almighty promised them both immense rewards for righteousness and punishment for their evil deeds. The Qur’ran stated very clearly 1400 years ago “indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and the obedient women, the truthful men and the truthful women, the patient men and the patient women, the humble men and the humble women, the charitable men and the charitable women, the fasting men and the fasting women, the men who guided their chastity and the women who guide their chastity, ant the men who remember God often and the women who do so, for them God has prepared forgiveness and a great reward- Qur’an 33:35.
At the time of emergence of Islam, the religion was socially embraced on most societies to treat women poorly and favour the men. In fact, the girls were killed due to the shame that it would bring to the families. During that times, many cultures frown upon female children and the girls were aborted purely on the bases of their gender. Islam completely forbids these notions and actively encourages parents to show good treatment to daughters, this is the reason of parents will enter paradise if they treat their daughters well because in Islam is, you have to treat women well. “The most perfect amongst believers in faith is the best in conduct. And the best of you is the best to his womenfolk” – prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The prophet (pbuh) had two daughters, Fatima and Zainab, and he (pbuh) will say “whatever hurts my Fatima hurts me.” The prophet (pbuh) will also say “God has perfected four women; Mary (mother of Jesus Christ), Asiyah (the wife of Pharaoh), Khadijah (the daughter of Khuwailid) and Fatima (the daughter of the prophet).” These sayings and many other sayings of the prophet (pbuh) show the greatest worth Islam gives to women (Respect your mother three times and then your father).
3). The importance of knowledge and education;
Islam requires girls to be educated by their parents. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said “seeking knowledge is obligatory on every woman and every Muslim.” The order to acquire knowledge and be educated is aimed equally at both males and females. Many societies see it as shameful to educate girls, even some ignorant Muslims refused and frowned upon females being educated. This is wrong perspective and it opposes the Qur’anic texts and the prophetic traditions. Aisha, the wife of the prophet (pbuh and his wives) was a renowned scholar of Hadiths and for her intelligence knowledge of Islam. One of her students ‘Urwah’ said “I did not see a greater scholar than the wife of the prophet (Aishah may peace and mercy be upon her) in the study of the Qur’an and Hadiths, the obligatory duties, the lawful and unlawful, poetry, literature, History and Genealogy.” Safiyyah another female companion (female disciple) was the most intellectual among the learned women. The greatest theologian Nawawi said about Safiyyah “she was very intelligent among those women.” Umm Salaama (wife of the prophet) had thirty-two great scholars who learnt Hadith from her. One of the greatest female scholars (Marwan) used to say “why should we turn to others when the wives of the prophet (pbuh) are among us?” The list learned women in Islam is endless. It shows that Islamic women were not illiterate, they were not ignorant and they were encouraged to take part in education an also to take part in the process of learning. Islamic women are the first teachers to our children. There are many instances where the scholars are challenged by the women, if these scholars went against the Qur’an and the Hadith as the rights against them. Islam gave them to permission if their rights are violated. The Islamic women does not only acquire knowledge and education but also combine it with the high moral qualities and values that Muslims must seek to imbue in the future mothers of humankind. This is the qualities and values of a Muslim woman. She must be provided with good education.
4). Separating fact from fiction;
Here are few facts about females rights in Islam as established over 1400 years ago: a) Islam condemned pre-Islamic practices degrading, oppressing and maltreatment of women and daughters.
b) Islam gave women the rights of inheritance and independence i.e. ownership I hampered by fathers, brothers, husbands, sons and or anyone else.
c) Islam gave women the right to accept or reject a marriage proposal, free from pressure, and force marriage are not allowed by Islam.
d) Islam does not require women to change their maiden names upon marriage nor give up their wealth. Their wealth are for the unless they want to share them with their husbands.
e) Islam protect the family and condemns the betrayal of marital fidelity by adultery.
f) Islam enjoins sound morality in behaviour, appearance and thinking. Clothing and social appearances that reduce the women to sex object and fashion that are not properly covered are not acceptable.
g) Islam judge women primarily on the basis of their pieties and excellence character.
h) Islam gave women the rights to be shown kindness, goodness and proper care. The men must protect and provide for their lives.
I) Islam stated very clearly that “women are the companion of men” (Qur’an Ch2) (prophet Muhammad’s sayings). The observance of chastity and moral standards is equally demanded in Islam men and women. They must be lovely to one another and behave properly with one another.
5). Marriage and Divorce in Islam;
Marriage in Islam is not only to perpetuate human life, it is also a source of emotional of truth and well being, it is also spiritual harmony between women and men. The Holy Qur’an emphasizes this important unity between man and woman in a beautiful similitude, thus Allah says “they, your wives and are your garments and you are garments for your wives” (Qur’an Ch 2:187). Just like a garment hides our nudeness. A husband and a wife entering into marriage, secure each other’s chastity as garment gives comfort to our bodies, similarly, the man (husband) gives comfort to the woman (wife). What a beautiful verse? Don’t you agree? The garment is a favour from the Creator, a mercy and a grace, beautiful and embellishment of the body, so too are wives to their husbands are to them. Praise be to the Creator whom has made this relationship perfect. The basis of marriage is mercy, love, affectionate and it is wonderful. God almighty stated clearly in His words the Qur’an Ch30:21 “and among His signs is this that He created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for people who reflects.” Instead of being forced to marry against their will, Muslim women are allowed to play active role in choosing their future partner, they do not have to marry anyone against their will. Islam gave them a choice and a marriage against the will of the women is not valid according to the Qur’an and the sayings of the prophet (pbuh), this is the Islamic Law (the Shariah). Many Muslims who follow customs and their traditions opposed this Islamic rights of women to refuse a proposal, but that should not be attributed to Islam but to cultural beliefs, an alien to Islam. The status of being an individual partner in marriage is emphasised by the fact the women keep their maiden names after marriage. This is the opposite of what happened in the Western countries, which is based on Greece-Roman Culture, the pagan cultures where the women are seen as slaves and subordinate to their husbands i.e. the women are considered the property of their husbands. Divorce is allowed in Islam if it is necessary. However, Islam commands that the rights of both parties are respected and one does not go beyond bounds.
6). Our Mothers, Wives and Hijab;
Islam recognises the sacrifices our mothers (parents) makes in bringing up our children. The mothers especially has higher degree of honours. In Islam mothers must be respected and honoured. A man asked the prophet (saw) “o messenger of God, who among the people is the most worthy of honour?” The prophet said “your mother.” The man asked again three times and the prophet answered “your mother” and the man asked for the fourth time and he (prophet) said “your father.” This shows us that the mothers are honoured three time before the father. Therefore, respect for our mothers, sisters and wives is very important in Islam. Kindness to both parents in Islam is most noble deeds and the reward is paradise. Thus God almighty said in the Qur’an Ch17:23 “your Lord has decreed that you worship none but He. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor raise your voice at them but address them in terms of honour.”
The hijab, dress mode code; the women in Islam are considered to be very precious and beautiful, therefore, they must be respected and honoured. The face cover (the veil) is seen by Muslim women as a liberation rather than oppression as it enables the women to be accepted for their minds, personalities instead of being judged according to their physical appearances or attributes. The veil ensures protection rather than exploitation. Exploitation of women and their bodies by men is one of the causes of the increase in crime i.e. rape, assault and child abuse. There are 31 complaints of sexual assault in the British House of Parliament as reported by the BBC Radio 4 at 11:00 am on the 12th of February 2018. It is interesting to note that ‘Nuns dress similarly to the Muslim women’, they are seen as exercising freedom of religion expression, however, the Muslim women are thought to have been oppressed by their husbands. The respect in which women and their bodies are given in Islam is emphasised by the fact that a man found guilty of rape is severely punished to serve as deterrent to others. This indicates the gravity with which Islam views crime against women.
7). Economics and the right to work:
Islamic Law declared a right for women. Islam decreed rights denied in other cultures. For example, the right of independent of ownership and inheritance. A woman’s right to her properties/real estate, to her money and to earn money. As regard to employment, Islam regards their role in society as mothers and a wife to be paramount. Their motherly role cannot be replaced by another person i.e. maids, nurse and babysitters. But, Islam does not forbid women from seeking employment or having her own business, especially in positions which are needed by the society like nursing, teachings, medicine, trading etc. However, the husbands is fully weighted and responsible for their maintaining their wives and the rest of the family especially the daughters must be protected and of course the boys as well. This responsibility is neither waived nor reduced because of the wife’s wealth or her access to any personal income. The His variation in financial burden between the husband and wife is reflected in the inheritance rights, so she inherits less because her financial responsibility is less.
8. Polygamy in Islam and Christianity:
When Islam and women are mentioned, non Muslims often ask about many wives. Polygamy, truly Islam allows polygamy if both of them willing to consent with one condition as God almighty says in His book Qur’an ch 4:3 “marry women of your choice, two or three or four. But if you fear that you shall not be able to deal ‘justice’ with them, then marry only one.” Thus if men have extra wives they must treat them justly and fairly, and each of the wife be cared and provided for with equal rights. This is in stark contrast with other societies today, where the married men found sleeping around and having extra marital relationship. In the West, divorce rates has risen because of this. It is the norm today. The women are regularly maltreated, domestic violence is rising and abuses taking place. Children who are born as a result have no rights of lineage, maintenance or denied inheritance. The ill-effects of such injustices are plain to see in many societies. Christians and Jews often criticise Islam for polygamy. However, most of the prophets?in the ‘Old Testament had numerous wives. It is very clear that no where in the bible has Jesus Christ revoked the Law on polygamy. This remains in defence of polygamy. Again, it could also be said there are more women in the world today than men. Therefore, polygamy is to ensure that there are enough men for all women and they can get married. A married woman can be maintained financially by her husband. Thus fulfils her role as a cherished wife and a good mother to her children. In the U.K., studies have shown that nearly 50% of marriages end in separation thus leading to divorce (independent.co.uk, “Are we meant to be monogamous”, 10 March 2015). Evidently, Islam offers a better and more amicable solution to this great sickness in the societies today.
Though pious women and men are rewarded with paradise and eternal life. This does not mean that women and men are the same. It is naive and plain wrong to the both are the same. They are different in many ways; physical differences, physiological differences and emotional differences. The Creator and the prophets throughout time have highlighted these differences and appointed for each gender rules, guidance and responsibilities. Our Creator has given guidelines regarding ‘menstruation, marriage, dowries, childbirth, breastfeeding, motherhood and fatherhood, family, education, provision etc. Some specific rules men and women and others. This is how balance and harmony is maintained in the societies, where families are strong, obedient and devoted to the Creator caring and working together to help and to make life easier and better for the society. We own it to ourselves to find out the truth. We can see from these article that women are badly treated in the Western world not by Islam. Islam protects the women and liberated them from bondage and abuse. Hence, the Western women are embracing Islam. We therefore invite you to study Islam and at least for a little knowledge.
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