Guest column: Women’s rights in the Islamic world

Statue in front of the Student CenterWomen’s rights is a subject that has been discussed for ages. While many people believe that the Islamic religion does not provide women’s rights, it is actually not true. Islam has been serving and protecting women’s rights for more than 1400 years, since it first began.

Islam has always respected women and supported them. From my interview with Sheikh Dr. Omar Al-Kubaisy, the preacher of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments of Abu-Dhabi, I got a lot of information about women’s rights in Islam. First of all, Islam promotes love, respect, and mercy between men and women. Prophet Muhammad always encouraged men to treat their spouses in the best ways.

Prophet Muhammad said, “The best of you are those who are the best (in treatment) to their wives.” There are many examples from Prophet Muhammad’s life about how he used to treat his wives. Aisha (Prophet Muhammad’s wife) was once asked about how the Prophet’s conduct was in his house she said that he was most lenient and most generous. Aisha said also, “He was ready to give a helping hand to his wife in the ordinary work of the house. He sewed his own clothes and mended his own shoes.” In general, he helped his wife in anything she needed.

Secondly, Islam attributes the success of any society, to mothers. A man once came to Prophet Muhammad and asked about whom along all people is the most deserving of one’s good treatment. The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man said. “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Your father.” Prophet Muhammad’s insisting on replying “your mother,” three times is a sign to us to teach us the importance of one’s mother.

Furthermore, Islam always appreciates females and women as mothers, wives, and even daughters. Daughters are considered a great blessing in Islam because Allah has promised a place in paradise to their guardians for bringing them up properly. Prophet Muhammad said, “Whoever has three daughters, or three sisters, or two daughters, or two sisters and he keeps good company with them and fears Allah regarding their rights, then Paradise is for him.”

Before Islam, there was a dark time when people used to kill females and bury them alive right after they were born, for doing nothing but being born female. Those people used to believe that females bring shame to the family and the tribe. Islam came, changed those beliefs, and exchanged them with respectful attitudes toward women.

Many people confuse religion and culture.

For example, a woman cannot drive in Saudi Arabia. Many people believe that this is a law that is delivered from Islamic rules, while in fact, it is a law that is found only in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia because of Saudi traditions and beliefs. In Islam, women have the freedom to do whatever they want as long as it is under the Islamic rules. Muslim women also have the rights to get education, to work, and to vote. While in the West, women had to fight to get the right to vote.

Sheikh Omar Al-Kubaisy mentions a great example of how Islam does not affect woman’s success, which is Prophet Muhammad’s wife, Khadija. Khadija’s father was one of the most successful merchants in the Quraysh tribe of Mecca. After her father’s death, she started her own business. “Her business was larger than all of the Quraysh trades combined and the most acclaimed with a reputation of fair-dealing and high-quality goods.” Khadija worked as hard as she could to succeed, and she succeed as she was considered one of the strongest merchants between her peers. Being a Muslim woman, did not affect her or her successful business.

On the other hand, some people still believe that Islam is a sexist faith. For example, people claim that in Islam young girls are forced to get married. While actually Islam stands against forcing females to get married. Prophet Muhammad said: “A non-virgin woman may not be married without her command, and a virgin may not be married without her permission.” Sheikh Dr. Omar Al-Kubaisy explains that Islam has nothing to do with any of the problems that are getting attached to it. Such as how in Iran, Afghanistan, and Yemen girls do not go to school, and in many Muslim countries girls are forced to get married at a young age.

He claims that these problems are caused by the cultural background of the country not the Islamic religion. Sheikh Omar mentions that in other Islamic countries like Turkey and Malaysia Muslim women do not have any of these problems. Mistreatment of women in some countries is due to the wrong cultural practices that they follow, not because of Islam.

In conclusion, I believe that women are given all of their rights in Islam. Islam provides respectful laws to protect women and treat them in the best ways. A Muslim woman is free to choose the way she wants to live her life. Muslim women do not need to fight for their rights because of religious oppression, as their rights have been guaranteed 1400 years ago.

Aula Abdulwahab
18
Born in Dubai
Lives in Ypsilanti
EMU student

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