If there is one stereotype that is most commonly associated with Islam is it being a religion that suppresses and oppresses women. With all the clauses of Islam people get the idea that it is somehow a male dominated or male favoring religion that considers women as only objects and subjects that are under the control of man and he can use them the way he wishes without giving them any rights.
The statement that Islam is a woman friendly religion and gave the rights to women, which they never had, has become a cliché. Despite all the arguments that Muslims give pertaining to the prestigious and respectable stature of women in Islam, the Western media still ignores them and tries to show the oppression of Muslim women as if it were commanded by Allah. The lines below discuss women in Islam in the light of the rights that Islam has given them.
The West thinks that Islam does not allow women to get education and become enlightened. This is a wrong conception of women in Islam, because the religion preaches education for all and the pursuit of education is as imperative for a Muslim woman as it is for a man. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said in a hadith:
“Acquiring knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim.” (Tabarani)
There is a universal agreement among Muslims pertaining to the fact that this hadith equally applies to all the genders and the word ‘Muslim’ in this hadith does not stand for male part of the society rather females are stressed in the same way and magnitude as well. Therefore, thinking that women cannot receive education or they cannot walk the path of learning is a misconception and is against what Islam preaches to its followers.
It is quite natural of people to assume that women in Islam cannot be charitable because if they are oppressed to a level where they cannot earn so how could they give charity or Zakaat. Sadly, this notion is also misconceived because in Islam women can be charitable either from their own earning or from the earning of their husbands. Hazrat Aisha (RA) narrates about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) saying:
“A woman will receive reward (from Allah) even when she gives charity from her husband’s earnings. The husband and the treasurer (who keeps the money on the husband’s behalf) will also be rewarded, without any decrease in reward of any of them.”
Therefore, the stereotype that males are the ones who are supposed to be charitable in an Islamic society is wrong, rather women can also be charitable and receive equal reward for their deeds.
Another patriarchal construct is males dominating the worshiping in Islam. People think that either it is obligatory five times prayer or excessive prayer it is the male members of the society that have to do it. They are the ones who are supposed to say Salat, they are to fast, they are to perform pilgrimage and so on. This notion like all the other false portrayed notions is wrong because pertaining to worship women are the same as men in Islam and there is no discrimination. Women have to pray five times a day as men do, it is also obligatory upon them to fast as it is upon men, and women of means also have to offer Hajj in the same way as men do. Moreover, when it comes to reward against all these deeds, the reward is equal for both men and women without any difference.
Property And Wealth Rights:
Under the same conception about Islam where women are repressed and subjugated, the notion that people have in general is that women have no property and wealth rights in Islam. It is on the subjectivity of the male to give whatever he wills to give to women. In Quran Allah Almighty says:
“And wish not for the things in which Allah has made some of you excel the others. For men there is reward for what they have earned, (and likewise) for women there is reward for what they have earned, and ask Allah of His Bounty. Surely, Allah is Ever All-Knower of everything.” (4:32)
From the ayah it is clear that women have right on whatever they earn, whether it comes from their work or from the property they have received in the form of legacy. A Muslim woman is to receive her share in the property and whatever she earns it all is on her personal disposal whether she likes to share it with her husband or other male members of the family or not.
Marital Partner Selection:
It is a common presumption pertaining to marriage in Islam that in Islam women have no right to chose their marital partner, rather it is her parents who do so and select whomever they want for their daughter. Like all other notions it is wrong and Islam gives an equal right of selection of marital partner to a woman as it does to a man. Once a Woman came to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and complained:
“My father has forced me to marry my cousin in order to raise his own status.”
The Prophet (PBUH) replied:
“You are free to dissolve your marriage and chose whomever you wished to marry.”
“I accept my father’s choice, but my aim was to let the women know that fathers have no right to interfere in the marriage.” (Ibn Majah)
From this hadith again it is clear that Islam gives the right of selection of marital partner to women and even more if they are forced to marry someone, they can say no or dissolve the marriage if they are pushed into it. Therefore, this great right of selection of marital partner rests with a woman in Islam.
Deeds of A Momin:
Sadly, the Muslim world has limited the women to the boundaries of homes and they are not allowed to practice their rights that are given to them by Islam. The job of doing good and forbidding evil is only associated with men in the present Muslim world, forgetting the fact that it is not the duty of a particular gender, rather both the genders are ordered to stop evil and do good in their capacity. when we read Quran and learn its verses with meanings, we can clearly see assess the message of Allah when He says:
“The believers, men and women, are Awliyaa (helpers, protectors, friends) of one another; they enjoin Al-Maruf (good prescribed in Islam) and forbid Munkar (evils marked by Islam); they perform As-Salat, and give Zakat, and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise.” (9:71)
Therefore, it is in the rights of a woman to do the deeds that Allah Almighty associates with a Momin, so that like the male members of the Muslim society, she could also play her part and make this and the life to come better.
In a nutshell, in Islam women have all sorts of rights. Considering women a lesser being or subjugating them is not to be proven from any aspect of Quran or hadith, rather they have rights that allow them to be a productive part of the society and be a practicing Muslim as well.