Embracing Equality over Disparity: Women’s Rights and Empowerment in Islam
By: Er Aausyf Ibn Farooq
In today’s world, where discussions about gender equality and women’s rights are at the forefront of social discourse, it’s enlightening to explore the perspective of Islam on this crucial matter. Often misunderstood or misrepresented, Islam presents a remarkably progressive stance when it comes to the status and treatment of women. The teachings of the Quran and the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) emphasise the essential equality of men and women, paving the way for an empowered and dignified life for all believers. Contrary to misconceptions, Islam stands firmly against any discrimination between men and women in their relationship with Allah. The Quran underscores this point unequivocally: “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women” (2:226).
Inherent Equality in the Eyes of ALLAH(SWT)
The Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, emphasises the equal relationship that both men and women share with Allah, assuring them of equal rewards for their virtuous actions and identical consequences for transgressions. This fundamental principle is expressed in various verses:
“And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” (2:226)
The Qur’an frequently addresses “believing men and women,” underscoring their shared responsibilities, virtues, and merits. The unity of purpose between the genders is outlined In Al-Ahzab:
“Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fast women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allāh often and the women who do so – for them Allāh has prepared forgiveness and a great reward.
Such teachings shattered the societal norms of pre-Islamic Arabia, where women were subjected to appalling mistreatment. Islam’s emphasis on shared virtues and accountability has unequivocally debunked the notion of women’s inherent inferiority.
Guardians of Equality and Family Unity
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) exemplified and propagated these principles throughout his life. He proclaimed that women are “the twin halves of men,” asserting their equal standing in the sight of Allah.
“They (your wives) are your garment and you are a garment for them.” (2:187)
This metaphor symbolises the protection, comfort, and unity that husband and wife bring to each other. The Qur’an’s teachings encourage a husband and wife to mutually strengthen each other’s faith, character, and actions. In this framework, Islam does not view women as instruments of malevolence, but rather as “muhsana,” fortresses against evil influences. Marrying a woman is regarded as an act of completing half of one’s faith, and her role as a nurturing and guiding partner is recognized as invaluable.
Empowerment in All Aspects of Life
Islam’s progressive stance extends to various aspects of women’s lives. Women are entitled to education, ownership, and the right to choose a husband. The Prophet’s respect for women was exemplary, as he highlighted the importance of kindness, compassion, and gratitude towards them. He encouraged men to assist and honour their wives, reminding them that the best of them are those who treat their wives with utmost respect.
Motherhood and Society
Islam elevates motherhood to a position of unparalleled honour and respect. The Qur’an emphasises the unparalleled rights of mothers and underscores their importance in a child’s life. The Prophet’s teachings accentuated the paramount significance of a mother’s role and urged Muslims to cherish and honour their mothers.
“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship.” (46:15)
From Oppression to Empowerment
The teachings of Islam ushered in a revolutionary transformation in the status of women. Where once they were buried alive and treated as property, they became integral members of society. Islam mandated inheritance rights for women, recognizing their position as mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters. Widows were provided support and avenues for remarriage, and their significance in society was reaffirmed.
A Model for Gender Equality
In an era marked by discussions of women’s liberation, Islam’s teachings emerge as a true model of gender equality. Instead of merely championing rights, Islam promotes harmony, understanding, and partnership between genders. The religion’s principles emphasise the importance of respect, dignity, and cooperation in building prosperous families and societies.
To wind it up, Islamic teachings advocate a vision of gender equality that transcends mere rhetoric and actively addresses the empowerment of women. The religion’s core values embrace women’s rights, dignity, and significance in shaping a just and harmonious society. By shattering the shackles of preconceived notions and championing equal accountability and opportunities, Islam stands as a beacon of hope for a world striving for genuine gender equality.
The writer is an Engineer, Educator and a Volunteer. Email:-[email protected]