Editor: March is Women’s History Month and as we celebrate the accomplishments of women in America and the world it is a time to also reflect on the misconceptions that abound regarding the rights of Muslim women.
The status of women in Islam is that they stand on the same level as Muslim men and can attain the same level of spiritual heights as men. Both men and women have the same commandments and rights and privileges. Only their duties are different because their range of activities is different. The highest level of reward for good deeds in life is heavens and in Islam it is said that heaven is under the feet of the mothers.
In fact, Islam gives women many rights, including getting educated, sharing in the property, choosing their own life partners. Some of these rights were not enjoyed by Western women until the 19th century. For example, until 1882, the properties of women in England were given to their husbands when they got married and they had no control over the usage of such properties. Fourteen hundred years ago, Islam laid out clear guidelines with regards to inheritance for both men and women. The teachings of Islam state that the man is the head of the household and is financially responsible for his family. A woman on the other hand has the right to inherit and own property but is not obligated to provide for the family.
There are many examples of women in the history of Islam who played great roles in societies they lived in. Khadija, the first wife of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) was not only a successful business woman but also a great friend and confidant of her husband. It was she who sent a proposal of marriage to the Holy Prophet who was 15 years her junior. Aisha, another wife of Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) was highly educated in the matters of religion. She imparted this knowledge to both women and men. Many of the sayings of the Prophet (Ahadith) are attributed to her. In the modern times, there are also examples of Muslim women who have achieved coveted status in societies. Pakistan and Bangladesh, both Muslim countries, had women as prime ministers. Benazir Bhutto served as the prime minister of Pakistan twice. The current prime minister of Bangladesh is also a woman, Sheikh Hasina. And who does not know the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai who defied the Taliban to stand up for the rights to girls’ education.
Thus women in Islam are not only loved, cherished and protected by the immediate family, but also by the community and their faith. So the rights of women in Islam are as strong as they are anywhere else.
Rabia Khan, Leesburg