The Status of Women in Islam

Women play an integral role in the formation of society. The many roles which a woman may assume throughout her life – daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, academic, scholar, and so forth – are instrumental in rejuvenating a prosperous and contended society. There is, in fact, an entire chapter of the Glorious Qur`an devoted to women, known as `surah al-Nisa`.

A daughter

Prophet Muhammad (peace and salutations be upon him) said, “He who raises two girls until their maturity, he and I will enter paradise [together] like this” and he interlaced his two fingers.

A daughter is a source of mercy for the household. The Prophet (peace be upon him) loved his daughters dearly and fostered great relationship with them. `Aisha RA (one of the wives of the Prophet) reported, “Whenever Fatima (the young daughter of the Prophet) came into the room, the Prophet would stand up, welcome her, kiss her and offer her his seat; and whenever he came into the room, she would stand up, take his hand, welcome him, kiss him and offer him her seat. When she came to see him during his final illness, he welcomed her and kissed her.”

A wife

The general advice rendered by the Qur`an is to look after the womenfolk, to fulfil their rights and to “live with them (i.e. women) honourably” since, in the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him), “you have taken them on the security of Allah”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once said, “The best of you are those who are best to their wives. And I am the best of you to my wives.” He was, in fact, a partner to his wives in domestic tasks including repairing his own shoes, milking the goats and stitching his own garments and cleaning the house. `Aisha RA narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) “never struck a woman”. The general Islamic teachings and the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) illustrate that domestic violence is impermissible and has no room in a Muslim home, which in fact should be a hub of tranquillity, love and co-operation between all family members. The Holy Qur`an states, “And of His signs is that He created for you from yourselves spouses that you may find tranquillity in them; and He placed between you affection and mercy”.

The prophet (peace be upon him) also said, “Act kindly towards women for they were created from a rib which will break if you try to straighten it.” This description to a rib is not in any way derogatory. The rib is curved and it has an important function, which is to protect the heart it encircles. The tradition implies their innocence, beauty, delicacy and gentleness. They should be sheltered from any sort of harshness and overlooked in any shortcomings. The Prophet taught the menfolk to understand the temperament of women and to resolve any issue with wisdom, gentleness and sensitivity. The woman was neither created from the head of a man to be above him, nor was she created from beneath man so she can be oppressed and trampled upon, rather the woman was from the side of man to be next to him, in line with him, close to his heart, to be sheltered by him and to be loved and cherished by him.

A mother

A companion once repeatedly asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), “Who amongst the people is the most worthy of my good companionship?” The Prophet each time responded, “Your mother.” When the companions asked for the fourth time, he responded, “Your father.”

An academic

The womenfolk played a pivotal role in propagating essential teachings of the Islam as well as in excelling in many other fields. Among the women companions and wives of the Prophet who narrated a lot of prophetic traditions are: A`isha RA who narrated 2210 hadiths; Umm Salamah RA who narrated 378; Maymunah RA who narrated 76; Hafsah RA who narrated 60 and Asma bint Umays RA who also narrated 60 hadiths. Abu Musa al-Ash`ari RA said, “Whenever any matter became difficult for us, the companions of the Prophet, we would ask A`isha about it: we would find she had the knowledge of that.” As well as being a great authority in Islamic knowledge, A`isha RA was also known as an eloquent and fluent speaker, and was adept in the fields of history, poetry, arithmetic and medicine. Similarly, there were many other womenfolk who contributed to their societies. Hafiz Ibn Asakir (d. 571 AH) was a great hadith scholar and he had acquired the knowledge of hadith from more than 80 women. Hafiz Ibn al-Najjar (d. 643 AH) had some 400 women teachers. The wife of the great fifteenth century scholar of hadith, Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani, was a scholar in her own right. Anas Khatun regularly gave public lectures that were attended by men and women. The world`s oldest university, the University of Karaouin, was established in 859 by a Muslim woman in Fez, Morocco.

So what is the status of a woman in Islam? A Woman in Islam is, “when she is a daughter, she opens a door of paradise for her father; when she is a wife, she completes half of the religion for her husband; and when she is a mother, paradise lies under her feet”.

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Posted in General on 9th Feb 2016 by Our Imam | 565 Views