With the list of recent atrocities that have been committed against women in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, one is forced to reconsider the question of what, if any, rights and roles Islam ascribes to women and what stance it takes for or against, any such occurrences in society.
However, if we look at the role and status of women in Islam, we would be surprised to think about where we have landed up as a society today.
It is repeatedly said in the Quran that all humans, of any gender, will be held equally responsible for their actions.
The Qur’an states:
“Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds” (Qur’an 74:38). It also states:
…So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another …(Qur’an 3: 195).
But for women “there is clearly a tender touch of the Islamic teachings” for women in most aspects of religion where Allah seems to have given special care and attentiveness to the needs and requirements of women, clearly stating laws for their protection and well-being.
- For example, the woman is exempted from the daily prayers and from fasting during her menstrual periods and forty days after childbirth.
- She is also exempted from fasting during her pregnancy and when she is nursing her baby if there is any threat to her health or her baby’s.
Islam has allowed a right which woman was deprived of before Islam and after it (even as late as this century)- the right of independent ownership. “According to Islamic Law, woman’s right to her money, real estate, or other properties is fully acknowledged. This right undergoes no change whether she is single or married. She retains her full rights to buy, sell, mortgage or lease any or all her properties. It is nowhere suggested in the Law that a woman is a minor simply because she is a female. It is also noteworthy that such right applies to her properties before marriage as well as to whatever she acquires thereafter.”
Investigating into the teachings of Islam or the history of the Islamic civilization, we find evidence of woman’s equality with man in what we call today “political rights”.
This includes the right of election as well as the nomination to political offices. It also includes woman’s right to participate in public affairs. Both in the Qur’an and in Islamic history we find examples of women who participated in serious discussions and argued even with the Prophet (P) himself, (see Qur’an 58: 14 and 60: 10-12).
During the Caliphate of Omar Ibn al-Khattab, a woman argued with him in the mosque, proved her point, and caused him to declare in the presence of people: “A woman is right and Omar is wrong.”
Therefore, researching a bit into the matter, it is surprising to see how ill-informed, or misinformed, most of us are on the question of the rights and status that Islam has given to women. Where most of us have given in to societal definitions of what women are, how much they deserve, and what all they can achieve, never really getting to know the special place Allah has gifted to women, in our religion.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know in the comments section below.