For decades, women have faced threatening serious problems. From being unaccepted as a daughter to being deprived of her rights to education. From being married off at a young age without her consent to being beaten up as a wife, women have not only faced these issues but are expected to accept them as their fate. However, women Empowerment has been a rising issue in recent times.
In countries like Pakistan, women’s empowerment is confused with liberalism due to the patriarchal views and mindset. Inferior, weak and oppressed are the first words for women that come in mind when the people having patriarchal views talk about women, and therefore when women ask about their rights, equality, and empowerment, they are called liberal and obscene.
But the fact is, these same people confuse their stereotypical cultural thinking and views with Islam and fail to accept that Islam is the religion that has empowered women from the very beginning. This article is about clearing the misconception and the real status of women in Islam and about their rights, responsibilities, and roles in different aspects of life.
1- Freedom To Education
Girls are given the same freedom to get an education as boys. In the 7th century, the Prophet (PBUH) declared education obligatory for both men and women. This declaration does not only give equal rights to women in education but also has made being educated mandatory. One of the best examples of educated women is Prophet’s own wife, Hazrat Aisha (RA) who was an exemplary scholar back then.
2- Consent In Marriage
Islam does not allow marrying off a girl to anyone without her consent. She has got all the rights to accept or reject a proposal and her approval is required to make the marriage contract valid. If she is forced to get married without her consent due to cultural reasons, the Nikkah is considered void and can be called off by her if she wills.
It is very clear from the following Hadeeth:
A woman came and complained to the Messenger of Allah (May Allah bless him and grant him peace) about her father marrying her off to his nephew without her consent and she was unable to accept the match. So the Prophet said, “Then this marriage is invalid, go and marry whomever you wish.” She said “I have accepted what my father has arranged, but I wanted women to know that fathers have no right in their daughter’s matters (i.e. they have no right to force their daughter to marry anyone without her consent). (Fathul Bari Sharah Al Bukhari 9/194, Ibn Majah Kitabun Nikah 1/602)
Islam highly discourages any kind of oppression or injustice with women. Islam provides dignity, respect, and protection, all of that are highly demanded by women these days. A man who doesn’t behave justly or oppresses women is surely under the cultural influence and is not seem to be properly following Islam and its teachings. A mother is given a higher rank than a father and paradise lies under her feet. A daughter opens the door of heaven for her father and is a source of Rehmat. A wife completes half faith of a man. This all implies how important the role of women is in different relations and how dignified and honored she is according to Islam.
Before Islam, depriving women of inheritance was a common issue. But Islam has provided all the rights for women related to inheritance. She is given a certain part of the property depending on her relationship with the deceased and as a wife, the husband is obliged to provide her Mehr (financial gift). While most of the people deprive her of her basic rights, Islam has clearly given her all the rights and encourages people to give them their rights.
As much as people in our society don’t want to accept it, there is no gender discrimination in Islam. Man is undoubtedly the head of the family, but this is in regard to strengthen and safeguarding the institution of the family. Islam, however, deals with men and women equally which is quite clear from this verse of the Holy Quran:
“And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, while being a believer – those will enter Paradise and will not be wronged, [even as much as] the speck on a date seed.” (Surah Nisa, verse # 124)
In conclusion, Islam highly encourages the protection of the rights given to women based on the guidelines of Allah and His Prophet PBUH, however, the cultural influences and patriarchal views are often confused with the Islamic teachings and thus the rights of women are not given the importance they require. Islam gives dignity, respect, protection and an appropriate place to women and if all these implementations are made properly, there will be no need for the Aurat March that has recently created huge problems and mischief in this state.
By Mehrunisa Qureshi