A short analysis of women rights in Islam and comparison with Western feminism
Islam is the religion of piety, compassion, and piousness. Islam dignifies women that were considered the slave of their husbands up to the extent that heaven has been placed under their feet. Islam gave rights of life, inheritance, business, and vote, etc. to women. Islamic principles completely deny western liberalism's concept of women and gave a complete model of women's rights that can be practiced by maintaining family institutions particularly and overall society in general. Western feminism movement seems to give much liberty to the women of the west but this liberalism and feminism are causing unsolvable problems for the women in the society and causing backlash. Despite giving all the rights and autonomy to women, Muslim women are not enjoying that dignity and autonomy because the contemporary Islamic World is not practicing those golden teachings of Islam about women's rights and duties and facing problems. Muslim e Ummah should dignify women according to the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah.
Almighty Allah has created two opposite genders of human beings and placed them on the same status. He prioritizes his followers based on Taqwa, not based on gender. All human beings are the same in the eye of law without any gender discrimination. Before Islam and the revelation of the Quran, women were living the lives of slaves. They had no autonomy, liberty and even they did not enjoy equal rights as a human beings. She was considered to be the lowest class meant for residing home and producing children, especially male children. She was considered as an object rather than a human being of the same species.
Historical analysis can be done on the following basis:
In history, in addition to culture, religion also became a cause to disregard women. For instance, Christianity, expressed the story of Adam and Eve as Eve caused Adam to eat the apple of the forbidden tree. Hence, this portrayed women as responsible for Adam leaving the heavens. Similarly, the Hindu religion caused the queen to pass from fire to make sure her loyalty and innocence (Agni Paraksha). But Islam revealed verses of the Holy Quran when the innocence of Hazrat Ayesha (RA) was questioned. Buddhism dissolved the female identity of women to become monks.
Today, western countries speak about women's rights but they cannot justify this leading argument. Two to three centuries ago, there were no women's rights in the west. For example,
Three waves of feminism:
The demands of these three waves of feminism are as follows:
First wave: Suffrage (right of vote), property rights, and equality before the law. Second wave: Equality in employment, radical ideas (no patriarchy, women should not do what they can do but it can act as a demonstration of male dominance), counter objectification (women should not be observed as beautiful objects but as human beings).
Third-wave: Women should be given a complete choice. She can sleep with any man and can elaborate at her own choice.
Current status and problems with western liberalism:
Following problems were raised because of this wrong concept of liberalism of the West.
Islamic alternative for problems of the west:
Islam gave clear instructions about women and men relations.
As evident from this verse of the Holy Quran that there is no difference among human beings based on gender. It means you make them look nice and they make you look nice. They cave for you and you cave for them. This equality and parity are given by Islam. It explains the whole philosophy of Islam as:
"They are equal but dissimilar ".
And in Surah Baqrah, it is stated that
"They are a garment for you and you are a garment for them "
Men and women have their place in society. Both of them strengthen society by playing their roles. Islam gave the right to vote, inheritance, own property, education, job, equal pay, and political leadership, etc. but Islam puts some checks and balances to restrain extremes and excessiveness. Islam gave the concept of "HADOOD ALLAH "that is not present in western concepts. These boundaries maintain the social system without problems that arose in the West.
Similarities of the West and Islam:
Differences of western concept and Islam:
Holistic analysis of women rights in Islam:
According to the teachings of Islam, both men and women have responsibilities and duties towards ALLAH, society, family, and self. They must complement each other and work together for a more prosperous community. Islam provided the following rights to the women:
Legal rights: In Islam, all are equal in the eye of law. Islam gave the right of testimony to women. They can testify as men. As explained in sura Baqra:
"And if there are not two men [available], then a man and two women from those whom you accept as a witness-so that if one of the women errs, then the other can remind her."
All the legal process for NIKAH is same for a man and a woman. Marriage is the name of connection between two partners and by mutual agreement. Women hold a share in the property of the husband, father, brother, and son and Quran has defined the share of women in inheritance. She can ask for Divorce legally if she does not want to live with her husband.
Economic rights: Islam has provided full liberty of doing business to women. HAZRAT KHADIJA (RA) was a businesswoman. Many other women of that time headed their businesses of dates etc. Women have a share in the property of their husbands, fathers, brother, and son. This share is defined by Islam as in the following verse.
"Unto the men (of a family) belongeth a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, and unto the women a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, whether it be little or much - a legal share".
Political rights: Islam gave political rights to women and freedom of expression. Once Hazrat Umar (RA) was residing in the Nabawi mosque and a woman came and addressed him that if something happens wrong here, my hands will grip your neck. HAZRAT AYESHA (RA) led the" battle of camel "and went to the battlefield for leading the war. HAZRAT AMMARAH (RA) was a pupil and assistant of Hazrat Ayesha ((RA) and was later classified as a judge. Hazrat Zainab (RA) spoke in front of Yazeed and led the caravan of EHLE BAIT.
Social rights: Islam gives the right of marriage, divorce, dowry (from men's side). Islam gave the status of equality to women. She has complete authority over her social relations.
Educational rights: Islam considered women's education necessary for an Islamic society. A Muslim woman must get an education both in religion and other areas. As Muhammad (PBUH) stated:
"Acquisition of knowledge is binding on all Muslims (both men and women)without any discrimination".
Spiritual rights: There is no superiority and discrimination on the spiritual basis among men and women in Islam. There is no extra reward for men or women on a gender basis. The criteria for superiority is taqwa, not gender. Hazrat Rabia Basra was a woman Sufi.
Legitimate restrictions on women in Islam:
In addition to the vast list of rights, Islam restricted women from some actions like Immamat, adultery, no degradation of herself, no prostitution, two women witness equals one man witness, etc. These restrictions cause major differences among Islam and western concepts and due to the absence of these restrictions, the West is suffering a lot.
Violation of women rights by contemporary Muslim world:
Contrary to Islamic teachings, Muslim Ummah is treating women on a cultural basis and restricted women from those activities allowed by the religion.
For example, FGM (female genital mutation) in EGYPT: Karo Kani and Quran s shadi are prevalent practices in Pakistan; women not allowed in public in Afghanistan, and ban on driving and travel for women in Saudi Arabia are those practices contrary to religious teachings.
Muslim e Ummah should pay special heed towards the rights of women. Women should be given all the rights according to the teachings of religion. Recent studies show that when females participate more in government, there is less corruption in the system. Muslim gender activism is the main concern at the moment. Muslims should follow religion rather than have some cultural biases. Women should be provided with rights so that women can regain their lost status. By doing this, Muslims can compete with the challenging world and regain their lost status of kingship.
It can be concluded from the above discussion that no religion has a compendium of women who have proven their mettle as voluminous as Islam. Women have been given all the rights and liberties and there is a need to practically apply and get the advantage in this world and the world hereafter. There is no need to seek some other religion or cultural concepts for competing with prevalent problems but to strictly apply own religion.