Islam is a universal religion. Islam is the religion that provides true understanding of God and prescribes His true worship. Islam is inherent in human nature and humans are created in accord with Islam.
Islam is a very comprehensive religion. It presents a way of life and gives guidance under all possible situations. Islam covers the entire sphere of human activities. Furthermore, in Islam, the beliefs must be reflected in actions. Islam delivers a message of peace to its adherents in their relationship to fellow human beings as well as in their relationship to God. Islam condemns discrimination based on nationality, colour or social class. There can be no master-race or aristocracy. The Holy Quran states:
O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another. Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you. (The Holy Quran: 49:14)
But, very unfortunately, there is one huge misconception about Islam as a large number of people believe that Islam does not give any right to women, and women are considered inferior, and they have often regarded Islamic women as being backward in a male-dominated world.
On the contrary, Islam was the first religion to formally grant the women a status never known before. In the Holy Quran hundreds of teachings which both apply to men and women are explained. The moral, spiritual and economic equality of men and women as ruled by Islam is unquestionable. The study of the Holy Quran shows that the divine scheme of regulation of the relationship between men and women, Islam has assigned a position of dignity and honour to women. Such beneficent regulation is essential for peace, comfort, happiness, and the continuation of the species and progress.
Before the advent of Islam, women were considered as a worthless creature. Women were not given any rights, they were considered as the property of man. Men had a full right and authority over women, and women had no authority whatsoever. Before Islam, women were sold as personal commodities, people used to marry their mothers, women were being divided as inheritance and people used to marry as many women as they liked.
The birth of a girl was considered to be a matter of disgrace and extreme shame. In Arab many tribes used to bury their newborn daughters alive and some ‘proud’ Arabs are even reported to have buried their newborn daughters with their own hands to escape this ignominy.
The role which women play in the Islamic social system is certainly not of concubines in harems nor of a society imprisoned in the four walls of their homes, barred from progress and deprived of the four walls of the light of knowledge. This ugly picture of the Islamic social system is only painted by internal or external enemies of Islam or by scholars who grossly misunderstand the Islamic way of life.
The only thing, which Islam would not endorse, would be to turn women into playthings, to be exploited or left at the mercy of male vulgarity. Islam does not promote such attitudes towards women.
In Islam, the status of women was simultaneously raised to such high standards that they could no longer be treated as helpless commodities. They were given an equal share in the affairs of life. Whereas previously they were distributed as chattels of inheritance, now they could inherit not only the estate of their fathers but also of their husbands, children and next of kin.
They could now stand up to their husbands and talk back to them. They could reason with them and, of course, had the full right to disagree. They could not only be divorced but they had equal rights to divorce their husbands if they so pleased.
As mothers, they were treated with such profound respect in Islam as is hard to find a similar example in other societies of the world. It was the Holy Founder (peace be on him) of Islam who was to stand for the rights of women by declaring under Divine instructions, that, ‘Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers.’
What a great tribute and honour has given to women as mothers. Can human history present any similar example to this?
The Holy Prophet has admonished:
The best amongst you is he who treats his wife best.
He who brings up his daughters well, and makes no distinction between them and his sons, will be close to me in Paradise.
These sayings alone refute the misconception that women are inferior to men in Islam, and in particular it demonstrates how much importance Islam gives to the respect for women. May the world realise the beauty of Islamic teachings and make these teachings their guide. Ameen
(By: Laiq Ahmed Atif, President AMJ – MALTA)