Women in pre-Islamic civilizations

Throughout the human history prior to Islam, women have been victimized and made to suffer too much. They endured unbearable deprivation, sorrow and oppression in all past civilizations. In other words, they were treated as if they were not human beings.

The Greeks said regarding a woman: She is like a poisonous tree and she is evil emanated from Satan. She may be sold like any merchandise.

For the Romans: She does not have a soul. They would torture women by pouring boiling oil on them or dragging them by horses.

For the Chinese: She is cursed water that washes away good fortune. A Chinese man would have the right to bury his wife alive. If a man were to die, his wife would be passed on as inheritance.

For the Indians: A woman is worse than death, hell, and fire. A woman didn’t have the right to live after her husband’s death. Therefore, she had to be burned along with his corpse.

For the Persians: It is permissible to marry any of the female relatives without exception (incest). A Persian husband could command his wife to die.

The Jews said: A woman is a curse because she is the cause of sin and temptation. She is impure during her menses. It is permissible for her father to sell her.

The Christians: The French held a discussion in 568 A.D. Some of the issues discussed were: Is a woman a human or not? Does she have soul or not? If she has a soul, is it a human soul or an animal soul? And if it is a human soul then is it equal to a man’s soul or lower than it? Finally, after long deliberation, they came to the conclusion that she is a human, but she was created only to serve man.

During the rule of King Henry VIII of England, the Parliament decided that it is unlawful for women to read the New Testament (Bible) because they are impure.

As for the Arabs before Islam: They hated women more than death. They used to burry female infants alive or threw them into an abandoned well.

Islam: The True Liberator of women

After this long history of injustice, Allah, the Most Exalted, showered His Mercy on humanity by a Religion (Islam), the teaching of which came to change the ugly human history and to create a life which humanity had never witnessed before in all its civilizations.

Women in the Quran:

The Noble Quran, the Muslims’ Infallible Book revealed by Almighty Allah, is replete with verses speaking about women, which indicates the honorable status Islam holds for them. There is a full Surah (Chapter) named: “Women”. This Chapter is among the longest ones in the Quran. Hereunder are some of such verses (which mean):

• {…And due to the wives is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable.} [Quran 2:228]

• {…And live with them in kindness.} [Quran 4:19]

• {…do not prevent them… (from remarrying their [former] husbands if they agree among themselves on an acceptable basis).} [Quran 4:19] • {…But give them [a gift of] compensation – the wealthy according to his capability and the poor according to his capability.} [Quran 2:236]

• {Lodge them [in a section] of where you dwell out of your means and do not harm them in order to oppress them.} [Quran 65:6]

• {…give them their due compensation as an obligation.} [Quran 4:24]

• {… and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave.} [Quran4:7]

• {…for women is a share of what they have earned.} [Quran 4:32]

• {…and give them from the wealth of Allah which He has given you. } [Quran 24:33]

• {… and you (husbands) are their (wives) garments.} [Quran 2:187]

• {…seek not against them means (of annoyance).} [Quran 4:34]

• {…it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion…} [Quran 4:19]

• {And do not make difficulties for them in order to take [back] part of what you gave them…} [Quran 4:19]

• {…either you retain her on reasonable terms or release her with kindness.} [Quran2:229]

Women in the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition)

The Prophet of Islam, Muhammad was sent by Allah Almighty, among many other things, to elevate the status of women and maintain their honor.

He was once asked: “Who is the most beloved person to you, O Messenger of Allah?” He  replied: “Aa’ishah”.

Whenever he was given a gift or something he would say: “Take this to so and so because she was a friend of Khadeejah’s (his wife, may Allah be pleased with her)” [as a token of his loyalty to her after her death]

Prophet said:

• “Treat women kindly.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

• “The best amongst yourselves, are the best to their wives, and I am the best to my wives.” [At-Tirmithi and others]

• “You (men) are responsible for providing for them (women) in the best way”. [Muslim]

• “The most rewarding wealth is the wealth you spend on your family”. [Ahmad]

• “From the good fortune of the man is a righteous wife”. [At-Tayaalisi]

• “Whatever you spend (on your family) is counted as a charity, even if it were the morsel of food that you feed your wife”. [Maalik]

A woman came to the Prophet and said: “O Prophet of Allah, pray for me and my husband.” The Prophet said: “May Allah shower His blessings upon you and your husband”. [Ahmad]

‘Aai’shah, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated: “The Prophet and I would bathe together from the same basin”. [Ahmad, Ibn Maajah and others]


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