Islam has recommended kindness towards women. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Treat women kindly.” Islam has bestowed upon women a dignified social status throughout various stages of life, from birth until death. This dignity grows as a woman progresses in life from a girl to a mother to a grandmother, where she is cherished, nurtured, and respected in her old age.
Our article today covers multiple aspects of women’s lives before Islam and the qualitative leap for women under Islamic law. It also addresses the role and status of women in Islam in various fields (humanitarian, social, economic, and political).
Women’s Status Before Islam
Women faced various forms of persecution and injustice among Arabs and others, with some nations’ views on women reaching astonishing levels of contempt and maltreatment:
- Some viewed her as being of a lower nature than men.
- Others considered her property of the man, to be disposed of at his will.
- And some saw her as a source of all evil and misfortune.
The Quran condemned dark aspects of women’s lives before Islam that touched on their existence, rights, freedom, and notably:
1- The practice of female infanticide, burying daughters alive out of fear of dishonor, as mentioned in the Quran: ” And when the girl [who was] buried alive is asked for what sin she was killed.”
2- Depriving women of some of their material and social rights, such as inheritance and the right to choose a spouse.
Women’s Status in Islam
Islam honored women as it honored men, saying “Indeed, We have honored the children of Adam” and granted her rights that suit her nature in various fields:
- Humanitarian Aspect
- Social Aspect
- Economic Aspect
- Political Aspect
Islam established equality in human dignity between men and women, as they are the origin of human existence, stating: “O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate.” And among the manifestations of this equality and high status in Islam:
- Equality in legal responsibilities.
- Equality in the rewards of the Hereafter.
- Equality in the sanctity of life and honor.
- Justice in rights and duties.”
Islam protected women’s rights to life, education, and child custody, and made guardianship over her a duty of protection and care, not oppression and enslavement.
Islam granted women full rights in the economic and professional field, including:
- The right to own and manage her property and affairs, as Allah says: “For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave.”
- The right to work in appropriate fields under conditions that preserve her dignity and family cohesion.
As women in Islam are fully capable and equal in dignity and humanity to men, Islam elevated her status and allowed her participation in public affairs, including:
- Consultation and expressing opinions: The Prophet, peace be upon him, consulted his wives in matters concerning Muslims, as he did with Umm Salamah during the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.
- Participation in jihad: Women accompanied Muslims in battles, attending to the wounded, providing water to the army, and participating in combat when necessary.
From the above, we find that Islam has moved women from darkness, ignorance, oppression, and injustice to freedom, justice, and granted her rights in all fields to be as the poet said:
“ The mother is a school; if you prepare her, *** you prepare a people of noble lineage.”
Author: Mr. Muhammad Nour Al-Bakour, Islamic Education Teacher at Masarat Initiative