It will always be obvious to us that Islam is a perfect religion and its followers are imperfect people. Growing up as both a Muslim and Arab has taught me this. Only too many times have I come across the injustice of inequality between man and woman, although Islam has clearly ruled that the sexes are equal in unique ways. Let’s examine the facts.
It is widely known that before Islam, women were considered inferior to men in every aspect; they were more sex objects than anything else, and they were commonly unacknowledged as individual beings. It was a shame for a baby girl to be born – the infant would be buried alive. Buried alive, just for the crime of being female! But God sent Islam and liberated women from all this mistreatment. Islam tore off the chains that bound us, and set us free from the cage of masculine injustice.
Fast forward to today. Not only are we living in a time of “Neo-Jahiliyyah” (New Darkness), but women are helping speed up the process! It’s strange, but sometimes what you want turns out to be exactly what isn’t good for you, although many girls haven’t realized it. They crave attention from men and obtain it with revealing clothing, make up, jewelry, etc. And those independent, spirited women have only reached their places in society today by fighting decades and even centuries of hardship. Take America for example: before the Women’s Rights Movement, women were supposed to stay at home to cook, clean, and tend to the children. They were only educated from ages 9-12, while men recieved full schooling. Those females who were forced to go out and find work were paid very low salaries and given few hours compared to men. Only after did they unite and fight were they given a fraction of the rights they enjoy today, and even now there are still struggles for women’s equality! You’d think that now that we are in the 21st century, situations would be entirely different and mind frames would be changed. It’s a shame that we can’t say that for all cases in America, and even less for other countries around the world.
It’s also a shame that people can’t just look to Islam for the answers. Islam is, as was said before, a beautiful and perfect religion. It liberated women 1400 years ago, when it was first revealed.
Islam gave women the human right of equality to men. Now, just because women and men have different obligations doesn’t mean that either one is superior or inferior. It’s like trying to compare a hammer to a saw and saying that a saw is better because it cuts or a hammer is better because it smashes. They are used for different things, so neither is greater than the other. Islam showed us that, and also asserted that women aren’t “evil” by nature as some may assume.
Women were also given the civil right of individuality by expression and the social right (and obligation) of education. On any public matter, a woman may give her opinion and participate in politics. She may also hold position in goverment; Abdul-Rahman ibn Auf was said to have consulted with many women before recommending Uthman ibn Affan for the caliphate.
Islam fosters the idea that a woman’s first care is to raise children and support her husband, yet if she has the capabilities to work outside the house she may do so as long as family obligations are met. Let’s not forget that the Prophet’s (SAW) first wife was a business woman (who happened to propose to him)! A woman also has the right to earn money (which she is not obliged to spend on the family, for the man must be of support monetarily), own property, and manage assets in whatever way she would like to. What other religion (or society) has offered women as much as that, for longer than an entire millennium?
As a wife, a woman has the right to be treated with care and kindness, as well as be given support by all means regardless of her wealth.
Finally, and importantly, the hijab is an obligation for women as a way to protect her from lustful stares and liberate her from social standards of attractiveness. As a hijabi, I always feel very protected by the headscarf and I don’t feel like I have to prove myself to be as beautiful as a model on a magazine. The Qur’an states, “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.” (33:59) The Prophet (SAW) said, “Allah, Most High, is Ha’yeii (Bashful), Sit’teer (Shielder). He loves Haya’ (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering).”
Looking at the true and noble values of Islam, it’s AMAZING how much we were given, and how humans have distorted it with the dark side of culture and tradition. As always, we look to the example of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) for how we should live our lives, so here is what said about women in Islam:
The Prophet (SAW) said, “Seeking knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female).”
Of motherhood, “Heaven lies under the feet of the mothers.”
Of marriage, “The most perfect believers are the best in conduct. And the best of you are those who are best to their wives.”