Does Islam Oppress Women ? (part 1)
I was in a debate with some foreigners in one of the fellow bloggers , and I found that there is a misconception of Women in Islam. The concept of women in Islam is misunderstood.
They view Muslim women as being oppressed a lot. What I would like them to know is that if Muslim women were oppressed, it’s because they forsake the true essence of Islamic guidelines and follow their country’s cultural practices.
It is important to know that Islamic law is derived solely from Quran and Sunnah.
The message of Islam is believed to have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), about 610 AD through the angel Gabriel. All the revelations of Allah have been accordingly recorded in the Holy Quran. It is said that the Quran is a record of the exact words revealed by God through the Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad. It was memorized by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and then dictated to his Companions, and written down by scribes, who cross-checked it during his lifetime. It is believed that not one word of its 114 chapters has been changed over the centuries, so that the Quran is in every detail the unique and miraculous text which was revealed to Muhammad fourteen centuries ago.
I will try to give very brief views in some posts of on women in Islam that I obtained from several researches, books and verses from Quran.
The first one is about the social aspects for women in Islam:
Women before Islam
To understand how the status and position of women improved by Islamic law, it is important to understand the conditions women were in before the Quran and Sunnah were introduced to humankind
Women in Ancient Civilizations:
Briefly how women were treated in general in previous civilizations and religions, especially those which preceded Islam (before 610 AD).
In the past women were degraded and used as objects of lust The following examples from history illustrate the fact that the status of women in earlier civilizations was very low to the extent that they were denied basic human dignity:
1. Babylonian Civilization: The women were degraded and were denied all rights under the Babylonian law. If a man murdered a woman, instead of him being punished, his wife was put to death.
2. Greek Civilization: women were deprived of all rights and were looked down upon. In Greek mythology, an ‘imaginary woman’ called ‘Pandora’ is the root cause of misfortune of human beings. The Greeks considered women to be subhuman and inferior to men.
3. Roman Civilization: When Roman Civilization was at the zenith of its ‘glory’, a man even had the right to take the life of his wife. Prostitution and nudity were common amongst the Romans.
4. Egyptian Civilization: The Egyptian considered women evil and as a sign of a devil.
Pre-Islamic Arabia: Before Islam spread in Arabia, the Arabs looked down upon women and very often when a female child was born, she was buried alive.
The history of human civilization testifies that the woman, who gives birth as a mother, was humiliated, treated harshly, and reduced to the position of being a “maid” rather than a dignified woman. Women were held in bondage to their husbands, who could keep them or divorce them at their will and pleasure. Women were viewed as the embodiment of sin, misfortune, disgrace, and shame, and they had no rights or positions in society whatsoever.
Hence, it is quite apparent men had absolute dominance over women in this time period.
The Arabs did not welcome the birth of a baby girl, and this was so because of the nature of their society.
Islam rehabilitate the status of women in society,
Islam has denounced the old myth of eve as a temptress and source of evil, as the cause of original sin and the fall of humankind. On the contrary, the Quran depicts Adam and Eve as equally responsible for their sin. The Quran describes,
“Did I not forbid you both that tree and tell you that Satan was an avowed enemy unto you?” Quran 7: 19-27
Islam prohibited the practice of female infanticide and restored birth rights to women.
The Quran ended the cruel practice of female infanticide by stating,
“ When the female (infant) buried alive is questioned for what crime she was killed…”Quran 81:8-9
Equality of Women and Men in the way they are judged :
1- The Prophet (PBUH) reported to have said, “All people are equal, as equal as the teeth of a comb. There is no claim of merit of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a white over a black person, or of a male over a female,”
The Quran is quite clear about the issue of the claimed superiority or inferiority of any human, male or female. The sole basis for superiority of any person over another is piety and righteousness not gender, color, or nationality
Woman, declared the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), “are the twin halves of men.”
He inculcated respect for women in these words: “The most pious thing in the world is a virtual woman”
2- According to the Quran, men and women receive the same punishment for crimes such as theft (5:38), fornication (24:2), murder and injury (5:45).
3- According to Islam , men and women have the same religious and moral duties and responsibilities. Each human being shall face the consequences of his or her deeds:
“ And their Lord responded to them (saying): Never will I allow to be lost the work of (any) worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another... “Quran, 3:195
4- The Qur'an provides clear-cut evidence that woman incompletely equated with man in the sight of God in terms of her rights and responsibilities. The Qur'an states:
"Every soul will be (held) in pledge for its deeds" (Qur'an 74:38). It also states:
“...So their Lord accepted their prayers, (saying): I will not suffer to be lost the work of any of you whether male or female. You proceed one from another
Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith, verily to him will We give a new life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the their actions. (Qur'an 16:97, see also 4:124).
5- According to the Holy Quran, men and women have the same human spiritual nature:
“ O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women... “ (Quran, 4:1 )
Muslim Women and Education
The Prophet (PBUH) moreover encouraged education for both males and females and even ordered that the slave girls should be educated.
He made it clear that seeking knowledge was a matter of religious duty binding upon every Muslim man and woman. Today, however, family circumstances, together with the traditions and customs of specific Muslim courtiers, may work to the detriment of the girl, in terms of depriving her of education, for reasons which have nothing to do with Islam. The Prophet ( PBUH) said:
"Seeking knowledge is a mandate for every Muslim (male and female)."
Men and women both have the capacity for learning and understanding. Since it is also their obligation to promote good behavior and condemn bad behavior in all spheres of life, Muslim women must acquire the appropriate education to perform this duty in accordance with their own natural talents and interests.
I will try to make ISA in the second post some views of the social aspects of Women in islam