Notwithstanding the prevailing belief of general public on this issue, it has been recognised and accepted by learned ones and professors of religion and family laws across institutions of global repute that Islam conferred rights of great significance including property rights on women way back in the 6th century, which women in other parts of the world didn’t get as late as 18th century. It would be pertinent to quote a para from Huffington Post on this issue- “The prophet Muhammad would be appalled by how current Islamic Fundamentalists are treating women under their control. This suppression is done in the name of Islamic Law, known as Sharia. But the current suppression of women is shaped by cultural and history. It has little basis in the Quran and it is certainly not consistent with anything we know about what Muhammad taught or how he treated women. Of all the founders of the great religions – Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Islam, and Judaism — Muhammad was easily the most radical and empowering in his treatment of women. Arguably he was history’s first feminist.”
Many critiques point out that even if Islam granted such and such rights on women hundreds of years ago, it gave them lesser rights compared to a man. To buttress their claims they selectively cite certain verses from the Holy Quran out of the context. They forget that there are many other verses in the Holy Quran that place equal and similar obligations on both men and women. For instances in verse 71 of chapter 7, it says that men and women both are protectors of one another. One should remember that each Quranic verse has a context to it and all verses have to be read not only in totality but also in justice, equity and good faith keeping in the overarching framework of justice, fairness, and equity which forms the backbone of Islam. If they rely on this aspect, they will not find any absurdity in any verse of the Holy Quran. If looked in that spirit one would notice that Quran clearing forbids inheriting of women against their will. It prohibits treating women with harshness and it mandates equity and utmost kindness in dealing with them. Prophet (s) said the best amongst men are those who are best in character while dealing with women. As far as dressing is concerned, the Quran prescribes modest dressing for both men and women. As far as the creation of human beings is concerned, the Quran says that Allah created them from a single (pair) of a male and a female. Even if we go by a strict literal interpretation, I didn’t find a single verse in Quran which says that women are inferior and weak but I did found several verses which say that man was created weak. But I can present a plethora of verses from Hindu scriptures which say that women are not only weak and inferior but also inherently evil who often lead men astray. Quran, on the other hand, refers to women as ‘Mohsina’ ie fortress against evil. Subhanallah!
- Al-Quran 9:71- The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.
- Al-Quran 30:21- And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquillity with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.
- Al-Quran 4:32 And in no wise covet those things in which Allah Hath bestowed His gifts More freely on some of you than on others: To men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn: But ask Allah of His bounty. For Allah hath full knowledge of all things.f
- Al-Quran 3:19 O ye who believe! Ye are forbidden to inherit women against their will.Nor should ye treat them with harshness, that ye may Take away part of the dower ye have given them,-except where they have been guilty of open lewdness; on the contrary live with them on a footing of kindness and equity. If ye take a dislike to them it may be that ye dislike a thing, and Allah brings about through it a great deal of good.
- Al-Quran 7:26 O ye Children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover your shame, as well as to be an adornment to you. But the raiment of righteousness,- that is the best. Such are among the Signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition!
- Al-Quran 4:28 Allah doth wish to lighten your (difficulties): For man was created Weak (in flesh).
- Tirmidhi 1162- Prophet (s) said- The best amongst you are those who are best to their women.
- Prophet Muhammad (s) in his last sermon- “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”
- Sahih Bukhari Volume 8, Book 73, Number 2 Narrated Abu Huraira- A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said, “O Allah’s Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man said. “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father.”
- Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 9, Book 86, Number 99, Narrated Al-Qasim-‘A woman from the offspring of Ja’far was afraid lest her guardian marry her (to somebody) against her will. So she sent for two elderly men from the Ansar, ‘AbdurRahman and Mujammi’, the two sons of Jariya, and they said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for Khansa’ bint Khidam was given by her father in marriage against her will, then the Prophet cancelled that marriage.” (See Hadith No. 78)
- Sahih al-Bukhari Volume 3, Book 41, Number 591, Narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba: The Prophet said, “Allah has forbidden for you, (1) to be undutiful to your mothers, (2) to bury your daughters alive, (3) to not to pay the rights of the others (e.g. charity, etc.) and (4) to beg of men (begging). And Allah has hated for you (1) vain, useless talk, or that you talk too much about others, (2) to ask too many questions, (in disputed religious matters) and (3) to waste the wealth by extravagance.”
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 165: Narrated Salim’s father: The Prophet said, “If the wife of anyone of you asks permission to go to the mosque, he should not forbid her.”
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 63, Number 260: Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet forbade taking the earnings of a slave girl by prostitution.
- Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 48, Number 837: Narrated Ibn Abbas: Hilal bin Umaiya accused his wife before the Prophet of committing illegal sexual intercourse with Sharik bin Sahma.’ The Prophet said, “Produce a proof, or else you would get the legal punishment (by being lashed) on your back.” Hilal said, “O Allah’s Apostle! If anyone of us saw another man over his wife, would he go to search for a proof.” The Prophet went on saying, “Produce a proof or else you would get the legal punishment (by being lashed) on your back.” The Prophet then mentioned the narration of Lian (as in the Holy Book). (Surat-al-Nur: 24)