The recent dictate by the management of Jama Masjid Delhi banning the entry of lone women into the premises has again generated a debate regarding treatment of women in Muslim society. Though the dictate, as per the reports, has been taken back, the issuance of the same indicates how unreasonably some set of Muslim clergy acts when it comes to women. Though historically Muslim women have made great contributions in almost all fields, the illiterate clergy is hell bent upon issuing dictates without understanding the basics of the religion. By issuing such dictates, the half-learned clergy is giving a bad name to the entire Muslim Umma’h and is trying to portray the community as gender insensitive.
The study of early Islamic history would reveal that Muslim women enjoyed the freedom of movement and took an active part in all walks of life. They were known as rulers, teachers, traders and companions of the Prophet. In fact, they defined success on their own terms and proved that they are the real architects of society. Prophets first wife, Hazrat Khadeeja was an entrepreneur of repute. She was a widow and run her business independently. Some of the well known names whose exploits and achievements deserve mention include Hazarat Aisha, wife of Prophet Mohammad who made an enormous contribution to the cause of Islam through her intelligence and scholarship beside being an important narrator of Hadith. Her wisdom and ability to learn, made her superior to many men of her time. This shows us that it was not Islam that forced the women backward but the half-learned preachers of Islam who made the Islam orthodox and alien for women. In fact, Prophet Muhammad always believed in women upliftment. The teachings of the Holy Quran did not only relieve womankind from innumerable troubles and the plight of inhuman treatment, but also elevated their status to the dignity par excellence.
The only course of action that will ensure progress and success for the Muslim women is to follow the footsteps of its glorified successful predecessors: both from the Prophetic times as well as from the contemporary era. Muslims, particularly in India, should focus on educating girl child as an improvement in educational level would directly influence Muslim women’s socio-economic and political status. In modern times, the quest for women empowerment is integrally related to the issue of leadership. Addressing present-day realities, while a significant number of Muslim women have competently led their nations by holding topmost offices, scores of others are still being held in the shackles of conservatism and religious dogmas. Keeping in mind the complex realities of today’s world in the context of Islam, it is important to shed light on the real political status of Muslim women in the light of Quran, Sunnah and Juristic discourse.