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Women’s Rights According To Islam

It is necessary to look at the position of women in the pre-Islamic society structure to consider the approach of Islam to women’s rights in a better way. It would not be wrong to say that women had a second-level place in a patriarchal society before Islam. The fact that most Arabs lead a nomadic life has a role in this.[1]

The reason why women had a second-level role in pre-Islamic Arab societies is that women were not seen as producers in a warrior society that mostly lived a nomadic life. This position has sometimes made even women’s lives unimportant. The fact that girls are killed by their own families to prevent them from depleting the means of the family and the tribe or to get rid of the shame of being captured by foreigners in wars, between tribes is also a proof of this. This inhuman practice is pointed out in the Qur’an as follows: ” for what crime they were put to death, …”[2]

The religion of Islam has made significant changes in the social, economic, and legal position of women in relation to both the religious understanding in the pre-Islamic Arab society and the settled customs and traditions.

The Qur’an accepts women as equal to men in terms of being human: ” O humanity! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and through both He spread countless men and women.”[3]

According to Islam, women are equal to men in terms of being a servant of Allah: “So their Lord responded to them: “I will never deny any of you—male or female—the reward of your deeds. Both are equal in reward.”[4] The religious rights and responsibilities of both genders are at the same level: “The believers, both men and women, are guardians of one another. They encourage good and forbid evil, establish prayer and pay alms-tax, and obey Allah and His Messenger.”[5]

In Islamic historical sources, it is mentioned that the religious life of women in the Prophet’s Mosque was active during the period of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is known that women companions performed daily prayers in congregation and attended Friday and Eid prayers.[6]

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) mentioned that women also have the right to receive education like men: Seek knowledge even if you have to go as far as China, for seeking knowledge is a duty on every Muslim (men and women).” [7]

In Islam, women are in the same position as men in legal proceedings. Women also can do a legal act under the same condition men can do it. [8] In this religion, women are given the right to inherit. The share they will receive is determined separately according to the status of being a mother, grandmother, wife, daughter, and sister. This right is an important innovation compared to the practice in the pre-Islamic period.[9]

According to Islam, it is her right to receive mahr (is the obligation, in the form of money or possessions paid by the groom, to the bride at the time Islamic marriage) to the married woman. Whereas it is an obligatory to pay it for men. “Give the women their dowries as if you were paying your debt. If they gladly give you some of it, eat it with pleasure.” [10] It is the duty of her husband to provide for a married woman.  “And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease.”[11]

A woman has an economic identity, rights, and freedoms independent from her husband: “You will inherit half of what your wives leave if they are childless. But if they have children, then ˹your share is˺ one-fourth of the estate—after the fulfilment of bequests and debts. And your wives will inherit one-fourth of what you leave if you are childless. ” [12] During the divorce, the woman does not give anything from her own mahr, nor from her private property and wealth.[13] A woman can save on her own interest: “Maymunah, the wife of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) freed her concubine without asking the Prophet (PBUH). When she told this to the prophet he said, “Did you really do that? I wish you had given it to your uncles, it would have been better for you.” [14]

When the woman does not want to live in the same house with her husband’s relatives -if the current conditions are suitable- it is necessary to go to a separate house. Because the private life between men and women may not be experienced due to the presence of other people at home.[15]

According to Islam, women are entrusted to men by Allah. Therefore, a man should be kind to his wife, be forgiving, be careful not to break her heart, and be kind to her: “Treat them fairly. If you happen to dislike them, you may hate something which Allah turns into a great blessing.”[16]

[1] Those Arabs who live as nomads are called “Bedouins”. There are verses in the Qur’an that point to this distinction: “And those with excuses among the bedouins came to be permitted.” At-Tawbah,90. “And if the companies should come [again], they would wish they were in the desert among the bedouins, inquiring about your news.” Al-Ahzab,20
[2] At-Takwir, 8-9
[3] An-Nisa, 1
[4] Ali-Imran, 195
[5] At- Tawbah, 71
[6] Al-Bukhari, The Two Festivals (Eids),15
[7] Al-Bukhari, shuabu Al-man,Bairut, 1410, 2/253.
[8] Muslim, The two festivals prayer,9
[9] An-Nisa, 11-12
[10] An-Nisa,4
[11] An-Nisa, 34
[12] An- Nisa, 12
[13] An-Nisa,20-21
[14] Muslim, The book of Zakat, 999
[15] Ibn-Qudamah, El-Mughni, 9/237
[16] An-Nisa,19


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