Women’s’ rights in Islam are one of the most controversial topics in history. Many Westerners are always accusing Islam of oppressing women and depriving them of their fundamental rights. However, little did they know that Islam is right about women in all their life aspects. And that oppression does not come from Islam, but from laws made by misleading Muslim men.
Islam is a pioneer in introducing Muslim Women’s rights
Islam came to the world with a message that was revolutionary at the time (610 AD). It uplifted the status of the poor, the underprivileged, and most importantly, the level of women in different life aspects, which includes social, educational, economic, spiritual, legal, and political rights.
Five Rights Islam Gave Women Before Western Feminism Did
Islam has empowered women more than 1400 years ago and still continues to do so.
1. The right to vote.
Islam gave women the right to vote, and historically Muslim women were politically active. Besides, the Quran and Sunnah have honoured inspirational women leaders that have left a footprint in history. Meanwhile, in America, white women could not vote until the 1920s, while black women couldn’t vote until the ’60s.
2. The right to own property and wealth.
In America, women were denied the right to own property until 1848. They became the property of their husband after marriage, along with everything they owned. The Quran not only granted women the right to own property but also acknowledged that women were not the property of their husbands.
Muslim women were also granted the right to inherit. They are not obligated to spend their earnings on anyone, while men are responsible for financially supporting their families.
3. The right to an education.
The first word revealed from the Quran is ‘Iqraa’ (Read). Islam puts a massive emphasis on seeking knowledge from the early years till death equally for both men and women. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Seeking knowledge is mandatory on every Muslim. “ Lady Aisha (RA), the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, used to teach people the Prophet’s sayings and narrate his life.
In 859 CE, the world’s oldest standing university was founded by a Muslim woman, Fatima al-Fihri, in Morocco. In America, women didn’t start regularly attending universities until less than a century ago.
4. The right to work (or not to).
Islam gives women the right to work and earn a salary. Anything she makes while using is entitled only to her, not her husband or family. This independence is seen in Kadijah, the first woman to accept Islam after it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Lady Khadija (RA), the Prophet Muhammad’s first wife, used to own her own successful business.
5. The right to modesty.
Contrary to popular belief, the religious meaning behind the hijab is female empowerment. As Muslim women, we choose to cover because we respect ourselves and consider the hijab a form of worship. Islam teaches us that a woman’s self-worth does not revolve around physical beauty or approval from men. Islam raises women above all that and frees us from the need to comply with the societal definition of what women “should” look like or how she should please others to achieve status.
Most importantly, the hijab is for God and God alone. How a woman chooses to dress, her decision to wear a hijab or not is between her and God alone.
These are a small sample of rights Islam granted women 1,400 years ago. Western society is still trying to catch up.
Islam is right about women
6. Equality in front of God
Islam recognized women as equal in status to men 1,400 years ago. The Holy Quran documented all the fundamental rights of women and narrates clearly that a woman as a human being is equal to a man.
Besides, the Holy Quran guided mankind, including both men as well as women, equal. All the terms are equally applicable to both men and women without discriminations being made on the bases of gender.
The Quran says:
Their Lord responded to them: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female – you are equal to one another.” Al Imran [3:195]
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from a single pair of male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.’’ Al Hujurat 49:13
In Islam, marriage is a sacred relationship, and Muslim women are granted an independent right to enter a marital relationship of their own and free will. Forced marriages are prohibited in Islam, and Muslim women have to give their consent before approving their marriage to any prospected man.
Islam is right about women
‘’O you who have believed, it is not lawful for you to inherit women by compulsion.‘’
How women should be treated in Islam
The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has set a high example in treating women with dignity and respect. Women as wives, mothers, and daughters have been granted a set of rights, that have elevated their status and advocated for a noble life.
While women around the world are still fighting for respect, dignity, and freedom, Islam has granted women their rights more than 1400 years ago.