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 Status of women in Islam

For women, Islam is a special blessing; and the Prophet of Islam is indeed the greatest single benefactor of womenfolk. In Arabia, before the advent of Islam, the birth of a female child was regarded as a great misfortune and a shame, and cruel fathers buried them alive: "When news is brought to one of them of (the birth) of a female (child), his face darkens, and he is filled with inner grief. With shame does he hide himself from his people, because of the bad news he has had. Shall he retain it on sufferance and contempt, or bury it in the dust? Ah! What an evil choice they decide on." (The Qur`an: 16:58-59). Islam made this primal injustice a case for the highest court

when on the Day of Judgment "the female (infant) buried alive, will be asked for what crime she was killed." (The Qur`an: 81:8-9).

 

"Prior to Islam," write the authors of Cultural Atlas of Islam, "a woman was regarded by her parents as a threat to family honor and hence worthy of burial alive at infancy. As an adult, she was a sex object that could be bought, sold and inherited. From this position of inferiority and legal incapacity, Islam raised women to a position of influence and prestige in family and society." Islam gave this oppressed section of humanity, as it did to all other classes and groups, their legitimate place in life. In a world where woman was no more than an object of sexual gratification for men, and at a time when the religious circles argued over whether woman was human or not, with a soul of her own, Islam proclaimed, "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female." (The Qur`an 49:13).

 

"O Mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single person, created of like nature his mate, from them scattered countless men and women. Fear Allah, through whom you demand your mutual rights and reverence the wombs (that bore you), for Allah ever watches over you." (The Qur`an 4:1). men and women are of the same family, and as such have similar rights and duties, and their Lord promises them "Never will I waste the work of a worker among you, whether male or female, the one of you being from the other." (The Qur`an 3:195).

 

Islam removed some of the false notions about woman. It for instance refuted the idea that Eve tempted Adam to disobey God, and thus caused his downfall. The Qur`an explicitly says that they both disobeyed and negates the idea that the woman is a source of evil. The Qur`an mentions some of the women with great respect, ea. the wives of Adam, Abraham, the mothers of Moses and Jesus. Some of them (Mary and Sarah, for instance) were visited by angels and they talked to them. This clearly puts woman on a pedestal of personal and social respectability they never enjoyed before.

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