Sunday, December 18, 2016

Women’s Rights in Islam - I

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Preface

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

All praises are due to Allah. We praise Him, seek His Help, and ask for His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil in our souls and from our sinful deeds. Whomever Allah guides, none can lead astray, and whomever Allah misguides, none can guide. I bear witness that no one has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.

I decided to tackle the subject at hand because there are so many discussions in the West and Western media about women’s rights in Islam, and Muslim women are thought or are represented to be oppressed, debased and disregarded, as compared to women in the Western world, whereas the reality proves otherwise. The Muslim woman is honored and respected from the cradle to the grave, and no other religion or civilization has given the woman her rights better than Islam. She has rights as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and so on; she has rights in employment, in education, in inheritance, in asking for divorce, etc. Indeed, she has more rights than the women of the West.
I will primarily rely on the Quran and the Sunnah in discussing this subject and in clarifying the rights that Islam has given to women.

Introduction

The Muslim woman is of great status in Islam, and no other religion or civilization has given the woman her legitimate rights more than Islam. The Muslim woman is respected, honored, and cared for whether she is a mother, a wife, a sister or a daughter. She is not an object used to promote some product, as is the case in Western countries and in America, where any product is advertised by a scantily dressed woman who is nearly naked, with the goal of selling a car, a sofa, a computer, clothes, food, a drink, or any tradable item or product. When a Muslim woman grows old as a mother or grandmother, she is not sent to a nursing home or a home for the elderly, and she is not visited or cared for only once or twice a year, like at Christmas, the New Year, or Mother's Day, as is the case in the West and in non-Muslim countries – at least in most cases. Rather, she is cared for throughout the whole year and throughout her entire life, and her children or grandchildren take care of her no matter how difficult their circumstances are, and they are obliged to do so, especially if they are well-off and she is poor.

Besides, there is a chapter in the Quran that is entitled after women, Chapter An-Nisa' (The Women) [Quran 4], in which Allah clarified many issues relating to women and their rights.

This chapter comprises of 176 verses.

Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that although men and women have the same religious obligations in Islam in general and are treated equally, they are not alike and they are not the same, as their physique is different and their nature is different. A man can do what a woman cannot do, and sometimes a woman can do what a man cannot do. Their nature is different, but they both complement each other.

There is no discrimination between a man and a woman, as Allah says (what means): {And their Lord responded to them: Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female...} [Quran 3:195] So, if a man and a woman do a good deed at the same level of perfection, then they will get exactly the same reward.

Allah also says (what means): { [Mention, O Muhammad] when the wife of Imran said, “My Lord, indeed I have pledged to You what is in my womb, consecrated [for Your service], so accept this from me. Indeed, You are the Hearing, the Knowing.” But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered. “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah].”} [Quran 3:35-36]

So the female is not like the male, but as for her rights, then none can deny them to her. We will discuss them hereafter. Also, the Prophet said, “...Women are the twins of men.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmithi, and others], meaning their likes and equals, as if they are their own brothers, and because Hawwa’ (Eve) was created from Adam, may Allah exalt his mention.

The Muslim woman’s rights as a mother

Visiting the parents only once or twice a year is considered cutting the ties with them, and this is a great, major sin in Islam. Indeed, Allah linked His right to the rights of the parents, as Allah says (what means): {...Do not worship except Allah; and to parents do good...} [Quran 2:83]

In Islam, we are ordered to be kind and dutiful to our parents; the Prophet said, “The parent is the middle door (leading) to Paradise. Lose that door if you wish, or preserve it.” [At-Tirmithi] Moreover, it is confirmed that a man came to the Prophet and asked him, “Who is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.” The man said,

“Then who?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother.” The man again asked, “Then who?” He [the Prophet] again replied, “Your mother.” The man said, “And then who?” The Prophet then replied, “Then your father.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

So the mother has a great right in Islam.

The Muslim woman’s rights as a wife

As a wife, the Muslim woman has the right upon her husband that he is to provide her with a separate accommodation, food, and clothing. Allah says about the wives (what means):

{...And due to them [i.e. the wives] is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable...} [Quran 2:228]

Moreover, the Prophet said, “The best amongst you are those who are the best to their wives, and I am the best to my wives.” [At-Tirmithi and Ibn Majah]

If a woman is divorced during pregnancy, her husband is obligated to support her while she is pregnant until she gives birth.

She has the right to choose a suitable husband. The Prophet said, “A deflowered (i.e. a previously married, not virgin) woman cannot be married until she approves.”
If she is a virgin, her consent must be sought. The Prophet said, “A virgin shall not be married until she is consulted. ” [Al-Bukhari]

She has the right to a bridal gift from the husband. Allah says (what means): {And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously...} [Quran 4:4]

If she is pregnant and committed a crime, she is not to be punished (at that time) so as not to harm the baby. A pregnant woman from the Ghamidi tribe came to Prophet and said, “Purify me.” He told her, “Wait till you deliver your baby.”

When she had delivered the baby, she went back to him, and he said , “Go and nurse your child till they are capable of eating solid food.” [Muslim]

Islam protected the rights of the woman in her social life and in her relationship with kith and kin by prohibiting her husband from marrying her sister or aunt.
If she is breastfeeding or is pregnant, she may break the fast if she fears for herself and/or the baby.

Islam protects the woman's rights by forbidding her husband to verbally abuse her. Hakeem Ibn Mu‘awiyah Al-Qushayri, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated from his father that he said:

I said, “O Prophet of Allah, what is the right of one’s wife over him?” He said, “You should feed her when you feed yourself; you should clothe her when you clothe yourself; and you should not hit her in the face, nor rebuke (bad-mouth) her, nor desert her (refuse to share the bed with her), except at home.” [Abu Dawood]

Islam protects the woman's rights to have children. It does not allow the husband to practice ‘Azl (i.e. coitus interruptus – withdrawing before ejaculation) without her permission. The Prophet said, “The husband should not do ‘Azl without his wife’s permission.” [Ahmad]

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